Frankfurt has come through the economic crisis in good shape thanks to prudent policies; now the ability of its banks to reduce balance sheets and increase equity shares as a buffer against bad events guarantees Frankfurt’s place in the new global, financial and economic paradigm, say business executives.

 “[Frankfurt’s banks] cleaned up their products and ran down their risk factors considerably,” says Dr Lutz R Raettig, chairman of the supervisory board at Morgan Stanley Bank AG. “We’ve adapted pretty quickly and are happy with the kind of stability we have.”

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 Frankfurt is a stable location that has managed the crisis well. Executives from a range of local industries attending an fDi Location Science Thought Leadership round table held in conjunction with business promotion agency Frankfurt RheinMain GmbH agree that Frankfurt is a vibrant city, well located at the heart of Europe.

Profiting from prudence

 Frankfurt has long been known as an international and domestic financial centre and the hub of regulation for international banking. The Deutsche Bundesbank, which is located there, operates as a model independent central bank.

 The city is also home to the European Central Bank, another independent institution and one of the world’s most important central banks. The European Central Bank will also host the new International Risk and Stability Board.

 Meanwhile, the German Stock Exchange in Frankfurt operates as the biggest derivatives exchange in the world. “The German Stock Exchange was the only stock exchange up and running without any interruption when 9/11 happened,” says Mr Raettig.

 What makes Frankfurt’s financial sector successful is the fact that it is backed by a big economy. “We have all of the supporting forces of academia and so on to support what is needed with regard to brainwork,” says Mr Raettig.

Open and co-operative

 Central to Frankfurt’s success is its tradition as a society open to foreigners and the co-operation between government and private enterprise in the city.

 That, in part, is why Crytek, a creator of real-time 3-D technologies and computer games, moved to Frankfurt from Bavaria in 2006; it is now prospering in its new location. Work by education institutions and synergies between industries are resulting in growing innovative uses of Crytek’s technology.

 Despite the worldwide recession, Avni Yerli, Crytek’s managing director and co-founder, reveals that his company is scaling up its studio. “We have hired more than 100 people for our headquarters,” he says.

 Frankfurt attracts people from around the globe. This is important for Crytek because it recruits worldwide. In fact, English – not German – is the language spoken in Crytek’s offices.

 The city provides a highly qualified workforce. Due to the 3-D technology coming out of Frankfurt, people from around the world now consider Frankfurt a place to seek employment.

 “People who have spent time here realise it’s actually a pretty nice place,” says Mr Yerli.

 Quality of life is a factor going in Frankfurt’s favour. The city offers world-class museums and quality entertainment venues such as the Frankfurt Opera and hosts many major sporting events, such as the Women’s Soccer World Championship next year.

 Frankfurt is also home to the world’s largest inner-city forest. “We Germans love our woods,” says Dr Hartmut Schwesinger, president and CEO of Frankfurt RheinMain Corporation.

 In addition, Frankfurt is home to the third largest trade fair in the world. Also held there is an international car fair and an international book fair, both the biggest in their class in the world.

 Helping to attract business and visitors, Frankfurt offers a state-of-the-art transport network. “From Frankfurt you can access the rest of Europe with great ease and speed,” says Mr Schwesinger.

 Frankfurt am Main Airport is one of the largest airports in Europe. Many major railway lines intersect in Frankfurt, as do principal highways.

 Peter Knapp, managing director of data centre company Interxion Deutschland GmbH, regards Frankfurt as a strategic location and a key global telecommunications hub. His company has invested substantially in Frankfurt.

 “Frankfurt is known as the number-one internet data exchange point in the world,” says Mr Knapp. “It’s a gateway to eastern Europe for the telecom industry and the main hub to exchange digital content, even for North American companies such as Microsoft, Google, Yahoo! and Amazon.”

 International surveys point to Frankfurt being a world leader for competing glass-fibre networks, meaning state-of-the-art technology and competitive prices. This makes Frankfurt attractive to Asian companies looking to transmit their content to the world.

 For all these reasons, Mr Knapp refers to Frankfurt as “the airport of the digital industry, where data and information gets exchanged and spread all over the world.

 “More and more traditional businesses are relying on telecoms and internet technology,” he says.

 This high-tech focus makes Frankfurt even more attractive, since innovative industries are growing their businesses despite the financial crisis. In fact, because of Frankfurt’s telecom networks, companies such as Interxion are capable of helping financial markets expand into electronic trading.

 Another benefit is that Frankfurt’s workers are well trained but their salary scales are competitive compared with other high-tech cities.

 “This is something you probably would not expect, because Germany is traditionally regarded as a relatively high-priced country,” says Mr Knapp.

Made in Germany

 Frankfurt is home to other important industries such as IT, chemical and biotech, all of which benefit from the city’s compact size. This means companies are within a short distance of each other.

 The fact that Germany has an infrastructure that companies can count on and that decisions are not taken in haste helps to brand Germany as an investment destination. “Somebody in Shanghai told me a couple of weeks ago that there are four words you can use to promote Germany: ‘Made in Germany’ and ‘Frankfurt’,” says Mr Schwesinger.

 And what does ‘Made in Germany’ stand for? “It stands for engineering solutions and high engineering skills,” he says. “We are very innovative and creative.”

 Germany is a high-tech country and a competitive market in a wide variety of industries.

 “We have a strong conviction: you can only be successful in Europe if you are successful in Germany,” says Mr Raettig. “But I think you can only be successful in Germany if you are in Frankfurt.”