Clever business

The takeover battle for ABN Amro Bank has spawned an interesting sub plot: the battle of the business schools. British bank Barclays, one of the contenders for ABN Amro, yesterday pledged to invest €20m in a business school in Amsterdam if its bid is successful. This flies in the face of a Dutch initiative Holland Financial Center which aims to set up a business school for top talent.

Under the big words and promises there is a clear lack of altruism on both sides, Barclays offer is self-serving: good pr at a time it needs to win hearts and minds for its takeover bid; and if it wins and moves its headquarters to Amsterdam as promised, it will need a supply of financial professionals.
The Holland Financial Center sprung into life after the takeover war had started and concerns were growing about the possible disappearance of ABN Amro. Its backers, major Dutch financial institutions, cannot be that concerned about it because they are reportedly only prepared to invest several hundred thousand euros each, which is ‘peanuts.
And it seems they only came into action after severe prodding from the government. If their spiel is to be believed then the project should have been up and running years ago.
One wonders what’s going to happen if Barclays loses the race. Will the government step in as it should have done long ago and ensure that the Netherlands has a top business school? Or will the importance of Holland as a financial centre continue its steady decline? The odds are on the latter.

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