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Allan Saunderson is managing editor of Property Finance Europe and a contributor to GlobeSt.com.

WARSAW-Warsaw was the main focus of European corporate expansion in 2009, ousting Moscow from first place, according to Cushman & Wakefield’s European Cities Monitor 2009 survey of portfolio managers and location strategists from Europe’s 500 largest firms.

The development of the European economy and availability of funding are the biggest factors influencing businesses’ decisions, and will remain so over the next 10 years. As a result, many companies are scrutinising plans for expansion and examining the way they use space. For 30%, consolidation of space through more efficient use and new working processes is a major part of corporate strategy.

The price/performance ratio is regarded by 34% of all firms as the most important location criteria, and this trend is on the rise. Still, access to the markets and customers, such as through telecommunications services and transport links, has remained the single most important location factor since the survey was first conducted in 1990. Cost factors have become of greater concern, especially staffing and office space costs.

For the 20th time in a row, London, Paris and Frankfurt top the board of the most popular locations for companies in Europe, in that order. Barcelona ranks fourth and has therefore switched positions with Brussels. The participants crowned Barcelona the city that is doing the most to improve itself and to develop. Barcelona also scored well in the category “highest quality of living.” Eight locations have ranked among Europe’s top 10 since 1990.

Of particular note, says Martin Brhl, Managing Partner of C&W Germany, is Frankfurt’s position. “The city on the River Main is competing for the top with two major cities that, as capitals of centralist countries, play in a different league in terms of their size, number of inhabitants and companies, their GDP and in terms of a number of other factors.” The rankings are determined from scores awarded for various factors, such as market access, transport links, telecommunications services, office space costs, personnel quality and staffing costs. It was conducted in May and June 2009 by TNS (Taylor Nelson Sofres).

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