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Boris Tells Indian Firms To 'Come To London'

(c) Sky News 2012

Boris Johnson has caused a row with the French by urging Indian firms to set up in London, telling business leaders to "join the business capital of the world".

The Mayor of London angered the French government when he told an audience of businessmen in Delhi they should avoid "persecution" in Paris and base their European operations in the Uk capital instead.

Mr Johnson was referring to a recent row between British steel tycoon Mittal and the French government, which erupted after its industry minister Mr Montebourg said ArcelorMittal (Other OTC: ARCXF.PK - news) , the world's biggest steel-maker owned by Mr Mittal, had shown a lack of respect to France.

Mr Montebourg, said: "We don't want Mittal in France anymore because they haven't respected France."

Off the back of that, Mr Johnson, said: "On a day when the sans-culottes appear to have captured the government in Paris and a French minister has been so eccentric as to call for a massive Indian investor to depart from France, I have no hesitation or embarrassment in saying to everyone here 'venez a Londres, mes amis."

He added: "Come to London, come to the business capital of the world, the place where 73 Indian firms are listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE: LSE.L - news) , where Indian companies already raise 53% of their international equity."

The sans culottes were a radical faction in the French Revolution.

Currently, Indian markets remain relatively closed, with strict and complex restrictions preventing Indian businesses from setting up bases overseas.

It is, however, already the fourth largest foreign investor in the UK, while London receives eight times more investment than Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt.

But Mr Johnson is wary that in a global market, politicians from other European nations will be hovering to snap up the business.

As part of the drive to promote London, in which 570,000 people of Indian origin live, Mr Johnson met Kamal Nath, India's minister of urban development, at the beginning of his six-day trip.

He said: "We've had a very good discussion about planning, about urbanisation, about regeneration, and about the importance of putting in public transport links before you build housing. I look forward very much to pursuing the process of further engagement with India."

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