Zhang Wei (China Everbright Bank (Europe) S.A.): A base for development in Europe – and beyond
China Everbright Bank chose Luxembourg for its European headquarters because of its stability and economic vibrancy, but also the warm relationship between the two countries. General manager Zhang Wei says the grand duchy is increasingly known in China as a hub for investment not just in Europe but worldwide.
What makes China Everbright Bank stand out?China Everbright is a major bank established in 1992 as part of the China Everbright group. When we arrived in Luxembourg, one question we had to answer was how our bank was different from other Chinese institutions. One of the biggest differences is that almost all our competitors are only active in banking, whereas our group is also active at home and internationally in industrial sectors including environmental protection, water utilities, waste incineration power and renewable energy generation. To illustrate, our acquisitions include Albania Tirana International Airport, a ground photovoltaic power installation at Schönewalde in Germany, and Novago, the largest solid waste company in Poland. Our bank launched its overseas strategy several years ago by opening a branch in Hong Kong, another in South Korea and now Luxembourg, where we have established China Everbright Bank (Europe).
« Luxembourg plays a big role in facilitating investment in Europe, but also in America, Africa and beyond. »
Why did your group choose a European base in Luxembourg?
Luxembourg has political stability, the stability of an AAA sovereign credit rating and a buoyant, outgoing economy. It has a deep pool of professional talent, which is important for any employer, the government pays close attention to its needs and ambitions of its citizens, and it is also focused on helping companies solve problems. The most important factor guiding our choice is the relationship between the two countries. China and Luxembourg have a long friendship, which has grown extremely close in recent decades. When I first came to the grand duchy in 2004, there were only two Chinese banks and two other companies from China, but now there are eight banks and many more Chinese firms. At that time, few people in China were aware of Luxembourg, but today there is recognition when you say you work here – and not only because of the Schengen visa or Karl Marx’s birthplace just across the border.
How would you assess the relationships between China and Luxembourg?
The two governments have been active in promoting friendship between the countries. Every year, there are official visits and trade missions led by prominent individuals and organisations, including Luxembourg’s crown prince, the prime minister, the economy minister and Luxembourg for Finance, always strengthening the links between Luxembourg and China. Most people are aware of the role of Luxembourg in facilitating Chinese investment abroad – in Europe, but also in America, Africa and beyond. I see an analogy with Chinese medicine. The shop contains many boxes, and you receive a mix of substances from several of them to treat your health problems. Luxembourg also provides many boxes containing the tools with which you can create the best solutions for your strategy.
Which opportunities do you see ahead for the bank?
We are convinced there are many opportunities. As the first institution from our group to be established in Europe, we receive tremendous internal support. The bank has dubbed this the “China Everbright Bank Luxembourg business year”! The group has a wide range of investments in Europe, and the creation of China Everbright Bank (Europe) will allow us to develop further in the future. The group’s vice-president has just visited Luxembourg, bringing representatives of China Everbright’s insurance company to discover the grand duchy. That is a great example of how Luxembourg is becoming increasingly important within our group and for China as a whole.