Thomas Wrangdahl, NIB First Vice-President and Head of Lending
Photo: Marjo Koivumäki
Thomas Wrangdahl, the Swede who recently was appointed NIB’s First Vice-President and Head of Lending, arrives in Finland with his wife and a good portion of expectations.
Wrangdahl says he is passionate about learning the history of client companies, and from what else he tell us, we can see his passions also include vintage cars, hiking, snowboarding and golf.
Wrangdahl is responsible for NIB’s lending operations both within and outside the Nordic and Baltic member countries, and he is also a member of the Bank’s Executive Committee. Prior to NIB, Wrangdahl worked as General Manager of the BNP Paribas Branch in Stockholm from 2006 to 2012. In 2010, he also managed the Copenhagen Branch.
What attracted you to NIB?
“It was the opportunity to do something outside business as usual, where the only driver is to earn money. NIB has another aspect to it, obviously its mandate, and that attracts me, both the environmental and the competitiveness part.”
NIB finances projects that stimulate sustainable growth in the Nordic-Baltic region. Its mandate is to provide long-term complementary financing to projects that strengthen the competitiveness and enhance the environment.
Mr Wrangdahl, who has worked in the financial sector since 1984, has witnessed the increasing significance of environmental thinking.
“It’s funny to think that just 20 years ago, those focused on so-called green issues were frowned upon and seen as a bit ridiculous. There was a lot of scepticism at that time, not the least from capital financial markets. Today, however, environmental thinking is at the forefront of developments. If you’re not green and take your social corporate responsibilities seriously, you are losing out.”
One of Wrangdahl’s immediate tasks is to complete a reorganisation of NIB’s Lending department. A major change was the decision to make the Bank’s environmental analysis group a part of the Lending department.
“I merged the two groups to streamline processes, and I think the change is very positive for the lending department, the environment mandate group and the bank as such,” Wrangdahl explains.
Wrangdahl holds a Master of Laws degree from the University of Lund and a Master of Science degree in Business Administration from the Stockholm School of Economics. Before his post at BNP Paribas, Wrangdahl has held various managerial positions, including at HSH Nordbank and ABB Financial Services, both in Sweden and abroad.
What’s the difference between commercial banks and NIB?
“One main difference is that commercial banks are geared to sell a multiple of products. It’s all about being able to provide loans upon which they can sell other products. With NIB, lending is the only product and everything revolves around that. And that’s fine with me. I’ve always thought the most interesting part is to provide capital as such.”
A good share of Wrangdahl’s career has been in providing export finance to companies, something which naturally involves thorough analysis.
“Understanding the basis of companies has always interested me the most,” Wrangdahl says, adding, “I really love it!”
“I always look at the history of companies, that’s at the very top of my priorities. It is both important and interesting to see how companies develop in order to have a full understanding of what they are today. And so financing their activities today is something I think is interesting to be a part of.”
How do you see NIB’s role in the euro crisis?
“The euro crisis has evolved and developed for quite some time, and this early autumn it looks like we’re heading in the right direction. The German high court rulings, the Dutch election which saw pro-EU parties win—these are all good news. But we’ve also seen very bad news coming out quickly and unexpectedly. In such a scenario NIB has a very important complementary role to play.
“Being a complement means that NIB is working to provide financing together with commercial banks. We can do this in several interesting ways, the most natural way being the fact that we can provide long maturities. It is very interesting for commercial banks to have that kind of cooperation.
“The combination of commercial banks and NIB’s experience, skills and ability to provide longer term capital is something that is beneficial for the corporations and therefore for society, also from an economic point of view.”
What about weary investors?
“Yes, there is a certain hesitation from municipalities and the industrial side to invest in new projects. For NIB, the disbursement of loans to the heavy industry and mechanical engineering sectors are currently lower than expected. For us, that is a clear sign that the corporate world is holding back on investments.
“Experience however tells us that this will create a certain overhang after a certain time. That will be a very significant investment cycle at that point in time when they get willing and ready. And when that happens NIB will be ready to act.”
What are the expectations for your new life in Helsinki?
“I was in Singapore for three years and very much liked that experience. We just looked around in Helsinki with my wife and we got a little bit of the same feeling. It is a new adventure, even if it’s geographically very close to Sweden.”
Their son and three daughters will continue their studies at universities in Sweden.
“I have tried to persuade them that there are excellent schools and universities in Finland and that they should consider doing part of their studies here, so we will see if they will take the opportunity.”
Wrangdahl hopes to find time in Finland to continue to enjoy his outdoor activities, among them hiking, skiing, skating, and canoeing. “It seems to be the perfect place for being outdoors, all year around!”
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