EQUANT N.V.



Suburban Sloterdijk lies about a half-dozen miles to the west of downtown Amsterdam and this area is hopping with new offices buildings. Correction, the buildings all seem to be within a two-block radius of a train station. Why? Obtaining permits to build office buildings in The Netherlands comes with a lot of conditions. Though one might want to build a spiffy new 20-story structure, you're severely limited as to the number of parking spaces allotted. The idea being to build close to public transportation systems, i.e. the train station.

Equant, a publicly traded company since 1998, owns and operates (jointly with SITA S.C.) the world's largest commercial international data network in terms of geographic coverage. Revenues in 1998 were $723 million.

Headquarters is an eight-story building located two blocks from the train station and a stone's throw away from a freeway. In an effort to make the ordinary-looking reflective glass structure stand out, the exterior windows has been painted a mix of colors (red, blue, silver) giving the building a dumb-looking checkerboard look.
Built in 1996, there's not much to report here with 20 employees occupying the fourth floor. A very accommodating office assistant answers questions and gives me a tour of the place. CEO Didier Delepine occupies a spartanly furnished middle office containing one plant, three train posters and a view of the freeway. The oval-shaped table in the boardroom seats 14 and features a "no smoking" sign. Any company perks? Every month employees receive prepaid calling cards good for 10 minutes of free phone calls.