Britain plots rival summit to Davos to woo international elite
Britain is drawing up plans for a two-yearly investment summit that would rival Davos amid concerns from Downing Street that the Switzerland gathering has become a party town.
The Government is in the early stages of putting together the summit expected to be launched in autumn 2023 after Davos was shunned by many top political and business leaders this year.
Ministers have not decided on a location for the summit to woo foreign investment into the UK but plan on holding it at a two-yearly interval, though no final decision has been made.
The UK did not send any of its top ministers to the World Economic Forum in Davos this year and a number of regulars from finance, including JPMorgan boss Jamie Dimon and Goldman Sachs chief David Solomon, have also not shown up.
Only one G7 leader, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, is attending this year, while Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, have stayed away as they draw up plans to alleviate the cost-of-living crisis.
Government insiders feel that the WEF summit is losing its way and has become a party town. They insisted the UK event would not become a “mini Davos” and ministers want it to be more of a serious investment summit gathering the biggest names in business rather than an annual bash for the global elite. It comes after the success of the Global Investment Summit in the UK last year where almost £10bn was committed in new foreign investment.
A Government source said Davos “is very different to what it used to be” but that it was still a useful summit to attract investment into the UK.
One FTSE 100 chief executive, previously a regular Davos attendee, said he had been in contact with Downing Street about the plans.
He said: “It’s a great idea. Davos has become too nebulous and distant from real business issues.
“A regular event that brings only the real movers and shakers to London could have a massive impact.”
This year’s Davos summit was delayed from January to this week because of the omicron surge but it has attracted far fewer top business and political leaders.
The UK sent investment minister Lord Grimstone and COP26 President Alok Sharma.
It comes as other countries try to topple the World Economic Summit’s crown as the world’s top event for finance. Saudi Arabia has held a summit nicknamed “Davos in the desert” to try and lure in investment.