LETTER : No `secret talks' by EBRD

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The Independent Online
IAIN Jenkins ("Germany tries to lure European Bank", Business, 26 March) produced a confused mix of rumour and error, resulting in a misleading view of cost-cutting efforts at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

The EBRD was restructured in late 1993, under new leadership, to increase our ability to assist in the transition of Eastern and Central Europe and the former Soviet Union. That restructuring made us a more efficient organisation, and moved staff out of our headquarters and into the region.

As a publicly funded institution, the bank has an obligation to ensure that funds which support us are spent wisely. With this in mind, we have cut administrative costs significantly by reducing expenditure on travel, hospitality and maintenance.

Since mid-year 1993, as our portfolio of signed projects increased by 239 per cent, this stringent budget regime produced a 6 per cent reduction in administrative costs.

The new smaller dining-room was established at the board's request and with the support of the EBRD management. It is 71 per cent cheaper than the old one and is considerably less expensive than entertaining outside the bank. The president, directors and senior management also use this facility to entertain.

No "secret talks" have taken place with German officials about moving the EBRD to Bonn. Had we been asked, we would have denied this. The EBRD's charter provides that its headquarters be located in London. Any change would require the support of at least 75 per cent of our shareholders, and 80 per cent of their voting power.

Barbara Ann Clay

Director of Communications

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

London EC2

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