Dutch banking and insurance group ING could consider moving its headquarters abroad if the Netherlands does not improve its business environment, company chairman Michel Tilmant warned in an interview with Dutch paper Financieele Dagblad which was published Thursday.
The Belgian said the Netherlands must take action in areas such as remuneration policy, education, taxes and government services. "All these factors must be positive if the Netherlands wants to attract head offices and keep them here," he said.
ING is currently headquartered in Amsterdam.
Tilmant, who took over the reins at ING in June 2004, said the Netherlands underestimates the extent to which head offices like ING's contribute to the economy.
"Most countries are aware that international companies create many jobs for people such as lawyers and consultants, both directly and indirectly," he said.
Financial institutions such as ING also facilitate small and medium-sized companies, Tilmant said. "I know from experience that bankers are more committed to companies established in the same country. This is important, especially when the economy is not performing so well."
Tilmant is particularly scathing about the on-going debate over the payment of top executives.
"We have to compete with salaries offered in London, New York and Singapore," he said. "If we want to attract talent to the Netherlands we will have to pay them the correct market salary. And to put it mildly, the debate on this issue doesn't help."
In the 2007 Forbes Global 2000, ING was the tenth-largest company in the world. The company has tens of millions of clients in about 50 countries with a workforce of over 115,000 people.