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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

JP Morgan to copy Detroit urban development plan in poorest parts of Paris

The bank will contribute $30 million over five years to programmes that teach job skills and expand small businesses

Seine-Saint-Denis was in the centre of riots that devastated suburbs all over France a decade ago. Getty
Seine-Saint-Denis was in the centre of riots that devastated suburbs all over France a decade ago. Getty

JP Morgan Chase, the biggest US bank by assets, said on Sunday that it has selected impoverished areas around Paris as the first foreign focus of an urban economic development strategy it started four years ago in Detroit.

The bank will contribute $30 million (Dh110m) over five years to programmes that teach job skills and expand small businesses in Seine-Saint-Denis and other places with high unemployment and poverty, JP Morgan said.

Located north of Paris, Seine-Saint-Denis has the highest poverty and crime rates in France. Dotted with large social housing projects, the area is separated from wealthy Paris only by an extremely congested highway circling the city. The area was in the centre of the riots that devastated suburbs all over France a decade ago.

Chief executive Jamie Dimon planned to follow the announcement with a visit to the city on Tuesday. Mr Dimon has been leaving more day-to-day operations of the New York bank to lieutenants while he promotes policies and public-private partnerships which he believes will promote economic growth.

His advocacy work has been primarily in the United States where JP Morgan earns about 80 per cent of its revenue.

The Paris effort is part of JP Morgan's "Advancing Cities" programme, which builds on investments of $150m in Detroit and $40m in Chicago, cities where JP Morgan has the biggest market share of bank deposits.

Bank executives have said they want more business abroad, particularly commercial lending to mid-sized companies.

JP Morgan employs about 200 people in France among some 255,000 worldwide.

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JP Morgan employees in Paris work in investment banking, money management and capital markets. They do not serve low-income individuals or small businesses who could be the first to benefit from the new effort.

Peter Scher, JP Morgan head of corporate responsibility, said the programme will provide workers the skills needed by the bank's business clients, some of which are in office towers near areas where unemployment rates reach 35 per cent.

"That is a good bet for the economy and it is a good bet for our firm," said Mr Scher.

The job training will focus on the construction, information technology and environmental sustainability industries which are important in France, he said.

The $30m for Paris is part of $500m sum JP Morgan said in September that it would spend in as many as 30 cities, including some outside of the US.

JPMorgan reported net income in 2017 of $24.4 billion.