DGRI - joining forces
The integration of DG Bank's activities
around the world with our own Rl
global network is starting to take on
the world. We need the product, we need
it for structured finance, we need it to
solve clients' problems. I'm in no doubt
we can make money on activities like
FARM, like credit structuring, securitiza-
tion. That's what the policy paper is de-
signed to facilitate.
Soyou plan to actively knock Rl into goot) shape while
pursuing the merger process?
You better believe it. We went through a
difficult stage with Rl due to overinvest-
ment in investment banking products - we
won't make that mistake again. We
needed to right-size this product group.
But my feeling is that we're actually too
small now so we'll have to expand opera-
tions. That's a priority for me and the
management team (see announcement 1
September). You'11 hear people talk some-
times as if nothing has been happening.
That's not true. We're in process of right-
sizing our back offices so that we hring
them into line with the front end. A
tremendous amount of work has been
done there. Would you believe that our
costs are going down for the first time in
Rl's history? There's a heil of a lot to cele-
brate in Rl. I'm a bit sick of people criti-
cizing and complaining all the time. Let's
get on with some work.
But you must agree that the uncertainty - also around
senior management - has been cause for concern
Of course. And I also agree that mergers
are by definition stressful and even trau
matic experiences. The fact we are a coop-
erative merging with another cooperative
rnakes the process even tougher. When
you're a listed company, you work with
sales and exchanges of stocks and shares.
It can be a rapid, painful and sometimes
even painless process. As we all know, the
few successful mergers that take place are
usually signed, sealed and integrated
within six months. For a cooperative, the
process is different. Our legal structure is
not designed for cross-border mergers. So
we're asking people to bear with us on
this one. It will take time, but there
should be enough happening with, say,
clients to keep us occupied while we work
out the fine print.
And you're absolutely in for the duration - there's no
search ongoing for a new chairman?
Yes to the first, no to the second.
You were one of the prime movers behind the expan-
sion ofRi untilyoujoinedthe Executive Board. Have
you always feit responsibie?
Very much so. But often when you've
been involved from the early days and
What's NewS Issue 5 August/September 2000 I I
you've seen a lot happen, then you can't
always be objective. I haven't been
involved with you all for some time, so
I'm coming in with a fresh perspective, es-
pecially on the merger aspect.
You've always had a lot ofcredibility within Rl. How
would you rate it now?
I think this is a very good company, too
good to let a very hright future slip
through our grasp. We aim to show peo
ple the advantages of this merger as thcy
happen. I talk a lot to Robeco - you know
that RN will be acquiring full ownership
of the Robeco Group in early 2001.
Everyone there understands they have
reached a marketing ceiling on the domes-
tic front. They need a bigger marketplace.
Working with DG opens up incredible op-
portunities for Robeco. The same applies
at Raho Securities. The placement power
offered by DG's network is immense. No
one doubts the credihility of these oppor-
tunities. And in terms of my own, well, I'd
say it was 50/50 at the moment. But once
people start to see we're all about clarity,
decision-making and action, rather than
what seems like just a lot of talk, then I
think you'11 see a wind change all round
and we'll get this whole business right
back on track.
Anumber of key appointments at re-
gional and national levels were an-
nounced mid to late-August which go
some way to clarifying who will be doing
what. But while announcements and ap
pointments give an indication of what is
to come, you may be even more interested
in a couple of concrete developments
which could prove a blueprint for further
DGRI integration. Under a Service Level
Agreement (SLA) made late June, Rl's
Hamburg office has retained the local
branch of DG Band as an agent for the
processing of Rl Germany's trade finance
service business. Says head of trade and
export finance at Rl Frankfurt, Juergen
Buchfink, 'You could see this as a kind of
pi lot for both parties. We started discus-
sions back in February and have worked
hard to put together a strong foundation
on which we can now build enhance-
ments. We had to tailor a solution within
three months and we made it on time, not
least due to the terrific support from An-
nekathrein Metzendorf and Hans-Juergen
Holtij's team which is responsibie for
DG's trade finance processing capabilities
at their head office.'
In Asia we've seen a similar development
in both China and Indonesia. Says re-
gional chief Christian Mol, 'DG Bank
opened its Shanghai and Jakarta offices in
Rl premises on 14 August as part of the
"one-roof-two-doors" policy.' The idea is
for DG to continue to service its clients
under its own banner. But at the same
Cooperating team: back, from left - Harry van
Eelen, Juergen Buchfink, Joachim Sorgenfrey;
front - Vera Hüttman and Annegreet Höschel
time proximity will facilitate further
preparation for full integration. 'I'd say
this was a first and very important step on
the road to a successful completion of the
DGRI concept in Asia,' Mol concludes.
What's NewS will be following progress
for you and will report back towards
the end of the year on how the one-
roof-two-doors concept is working.