Centrally located to benefit from decentralisation
In May 2014, the European Investment Bank (EIB) opened its Dutch office in Amsterdam. “Since 2008, the volume of our investments has increased, and this new office allows us closer contact with our Dutch customers,” says Pim van Ballekom, EIB vice president.
The EIB is owned by the 28 member states of the European Union and invests in projects that improve infrastructure, energy supply or environmental standards both inside the EU and in neighbouring or developing countries. “The investments we do must be in line with the priorities of our owner, the EU,” says Van Ballekom. “However, unique characteristics of countries we invest in also play a role in the selection of projects. For the Netherlands that means we also invest in knowledge institutes, healthcare projects and sustainable energy. Logistic projects that further improve the already excellent Dutch infrastructure also remain important, of course.” The EIB anticipates that there will be numerous promising projects in the Netherlands in 2014 and beyond, for example through project finance support for strategic infrastructure and renewable energy.
Van Ballekom adds: “Here on the Zuidas, Amsterdam’s financial district, important contacts are just a stone’s throw away. We often provide financial support in conjunction with private banks. So it helps that we are so close to all major Dutch banks that are located here. Moreover, there is an abundance of business services providers and headquarters of multinationals here.” The EIB’s vice president spends most of his time at the headquarters of the bank in Luxembourg, but clearly enjoys visiting the Dutch branch of his organisation.
“Another big plus is the excellent accessibility of our office here in Amsterdam,” says Van Ballekom. “We often have colleagues from our main office in Luxembourg over to support our staff here in Amsterdam. The fact that it only takes about one hour of travelling time from Luxembourg to our Amsterdam office allows for this close cooperation and is very beneficial.” As part of the EIB’s strategy to decentralise operations, the EIB also has offices in other European cities such as London. “Amsterdam is slowly taking over London’s position as a hub for many of our employees. From our London office it takes much more time to get to the airport. Here in Amsterdam, it takes us only 15 minutes and we can reach most relevant European destinations within 2.5 hours from here.”
A pleasant surprise was the ease of setting up an office in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. Van Ballekom says: “Within two months after the decision was made to set up in Amsterdam, we were able to open our office. A record for us. The assistance of amsterdam inbusiness
was beneficial in this process. Although it was easy to set up our office here, it was nice to have one contact person we could turn to.”