Dutch eye-up 60 London firms as Brexit drives them away

Amsterdam is seeking to lure companies and the European Medicines Agency as Brexit drives them away from London, even as a Dutch cap on bank bonuses keeps financial firms away.

The city’s top economic official is in “serious conversations” with 60 companies, among them broadcasters and services firms, as they seek to lock in prime locations.

“Companies that need to spread out from London into other member states don’t want to be standing at the back of the line,” Kajsa Ollongren, Amsterdam’s deputy mayor in charge of economic affairs, said.

While Frankfurt is rapidly becoming the location of choice for banks like Morgan Stanley and Citigroup, the city of bicycles and the home of the world’s oldest stock exchange — which in recent years has drawn the likes of Netflix and Salesforce — sees itself as better positioned than other European cities to attract companies.

That effort pits it against Frankfurt, Paris, Dublin, and others, all of which are offering incentives and making pitches on everything from infrastructure to international schools.

“The fact that you can cycle here and don’t have to sit in a very hot subway” is an added plus for a country that can draw on its deep talent pool, is centrally located in Europe and has the right infrastructure, Ms Ollongren said.

Banks that would have been lured by these elements have been deterred by the bonus cap, Ms Ollongren acknowledged.

The Dutch cap stipulates that banks can award a maximum bonus of 20% of the fixed annual salary, making the Netherlands stricter than other European countries. It has prompted the Dutch employers’ association VNO-NCW to call on politicians to change it.

Ms Ollongren said she had been asked by colleagues whether the bonus cap puts the Netherlands at a disadvantage. The honest answer is “yes,” she said, adding that people discussing the new coalition will determine whether they want to create a level playing field.

Still, she warned against focusing too much on the banks. “It’s not like all those banks will pick up their things and go somewhere else in Europe.”

Amsterdam would like to focus on the quality of the businesses it can lure, she said, paying more attention to the value they’ll add to the local economy and the kind of jobs they’ll create.


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