Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Enormous Investment: Boeing and Airbus Parts to be Produced Near Zagreb

More than excellent news for the Croatian job market and the domestic economy as a whole as as many as 600 jobs are set to be opened in Zagreb County thanks to a huge investment.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 29th of May, 2019, parts for the aviation giants Boeing and Airbus will be produced in the Republic of Croatia. The parts will be incorporated into the world's most famous aircraft and their engines, including names like Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, and Rolls-Royce. The news was announced on Wednesday by Večernji list, citing that the Austrian aeronautical company FACC is beginning to construct a production plant for the interior parts of planes in the business zone of Jakovlje in Zagreb County, close to the Croatian capital of Zagreb.

The investment is worth a massive 33 million euros and will open up 600 jobs. The land has already been purchased, the necessary permissions and the permit have been granted and the construction has begun. The plant should be completed by the end of 2020 and production at the plant will commence in 2021.

This great news has also been confirmed by the head of the aforementioned Austrian company Robert Machtlinger, who stated that FACC wants to grow and be quicker than the market and intends to work on strengthening the expertise of its employees. "Zagreb is offering us this because it has a highly qualified workforce," he added.

The company chose between different locations in Central and Eastern Europe and ultimately decided on Zagreb. The sale contract has already been signed, and the Austrian company has become the owner of the land in the Jakovlje business area, totalling 130 thousand square metres.

Vecernji list also revealed that a meeting will take place on Wednesday in Banski Dvori where the President of FACC AGI's management board and the president of AVIC Cabin Systems Co. Limited from China, a company which owns 55.5 percent of the Austrian company, will talk to Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, Economy Minister Darko Horvat and State Secretary Zdenk Lucić about the project implementation and everything that goes into the planning and licensing phase.

The plan is that construction work on the plant will be completed by December 2020, and production will begin no later than April 2021, according to Dnevnik.

As a daughter company of the Chinese state-owned company Aviation Industry Corporation of China, one of the ten largest Chinese companies, FACC, based in Austria, is part of the global market and cooperates with world leaders in the aviation industry such as Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, Rolls-Royce. FACC is otherwise a company with more than 3,400 employees from 38 countries which work in thirteen locations worldwide, Vecernji list writes.

They added that un the financial year 2018/2019, they earned 781.6 million euros in revenue, an increase of 4.5 percent compared to the previous financial year, and also the best result in the company's thirty-year history.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for much more.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Huge European Investment Coming to Bjelovar-Bilogora County

A huge European investment for Bjelovar-Bilogora County has been achieved, and usage permits are expected in just a few weeks time.

All too often we're bombarded with depressing tales of failed investments, lost money, shattered dreams and the infamous red tape of the Croatian state which seems to want nothing more than to stop potential investors with cash in their pockets from putting their money where their mouth is in Croatia for the benefit of everyone.

When confronted with such headlines and stories on a daily basis, it can often be difficult to believe, let alone imagine, that not everything is always quite so bleak here in Croatia. While many would-be investors try and fail at the first (or first several) needless hurdles put in place by Croatia's blank-faced uhljebs (rough translation: pointless state employees/oxygen thieves), there are many who do persevere, and succeed. But, we'd all much rather be depressed and have something to complain about over a four hour coffee while we ourselves could be working, right? Right.

The fact of the matter is, Croatia is slowly but surely improving when it comes to investment, and while the country has an awfully long way to go before it could ever be considered even remotely investor friendly or truly safe, progress is being made at a snail's pace - the Croatian way.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 28th of May, 2019, one of the largest European investments is set to come to no less than Bjelovar-Bilogora County in continental Croatia, in the form of a Technology Park in Garešnica. The park was planned and then built in the Kapelica Entrepreneurial Zone, and the value of the investment is an enormous 21.5 million kuna. Most of the money, as much as 92 percent of the total amount, was invested by the European Regional Development Fund, according to a report from Tocka na i.

Bjelovar-Bilogora's new Technology Park stretches to nearly 1,800 square metres, boasts an impressive eighteen business premises, a conference and education hall, as well as a meeting room. The issuance of a usage permit is expected in early July, followed by the final conclusion of the contracts with entrepreneurs.

Josip Bilandžija, Mayor of Garešnica, is convinced that Bjelovar-Bilogora's brand new Technology Park will definitely reach completion. There will be places for eleven new and three already existing companies, and assistance in development projects will be readily provided by the Entrepreneurial Incubator from Osijek, as well as the Entrepreneurial Centre in Garešnica.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for more on investment in Croatia, doing business in Croatia, working in Croatia, and much more.

Friday, 17 May 2019

Successful Croatian Company ''Include'' Enjoys Yet More Investment

The highly successful Croatian company ''Include'' recently celebrated its fifth birthday, and today this remarkable company has had its worth valued by an independent auditing house, and that worth has been estimated at more than 110 million kuna.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 15th of May, 2019, Solin's Include, a Croatian company which produces smart benches headed by young entrepreneur Ivan Mrvoš, is continuing to go from strength to strength. Mrvoš recently confirmed the first direct investor in a new investment round. That investor is no less than Stjepan Talan, the director of the Varaždin-based company Solvis. Solvis currently employs 180 people, and back in 2017, this company recorded more than 600 million kuna in revenue. In addition, the company has been listed on the London Stock Exchange for the past two years among the 1000 companies that inspire Europe.

"For the last ten years, my company, Solvis, has been successfully doing business and selling its solar panels on global markets. I'm looking at the company Include with perspective, and, considering the fact that it works in the same industrial sector, I think this investment can contribute to the betterment of overall business, primarily synergy between Solvis and Include,'' stated Solvis' Stjepan Talan.

Cooperation between Include and Solvis started back in 2015, and otherwise, Include launched a new investment round twenty days ago, via the Funderbeam platform, and up until now, an impressive eleven million kuna has been raised by 450 investors from Croatia and across the world. In addition to the money raised by Include through the platform, negotiations with several private investors such as Stjepan Talan and the total investment amount (private investors and the Funderbeam platform) that sum could reach up to thirty million kuna.

Include exports eleven products to 43 global markets, and are present in 260 cities around the world. The company's worth was estimated at 110 million kuna this year by an independent auditing firm. Owing to its innovative, smart urban furnishings, the Croatian company has already won several much deserved awards and recognitions, such as Deloitte's Technology Fast 50 and Forbes' 30 under 30 award for its founder, Ivan Mrvoš.

"We're exceptionally pleased that this cooperation with Solvis has given us a new dimension,'' said Include's Ivan Mrvoš.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business and Made in Croatia pages for much more.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Construction of Luxury Aman Resort in Cavtat Beginning This Year

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 15th of May, 2019, the saga with the former Cavtat ''Macedonia'' hotel could well have a happy end, Večernji list reports.

The story dates back to the year 2013 when a group of investors announced that the currently abandoned and devastated site will the luxury Aman resort built there. Things were of course rather complicated, which isn't remotely unusual, and in the meantime the ownership structure of the investor's company has changed, but the key player, Greek entrepreneur Petros Stathis, didn't think for even one moment to walk away from the planned and desired Cavtat investment.

Passionate about business and temperamental like any real Greek, he is the owner of several Aman hotels and resorts groups, including Aman Sveti Stefan in neighbouring Montenegro and over in Venice. Business wise, he's mostly focused on the Balkan region. He is active in both banking and real estate world and was even the director of the famous Athenian Football Club AEK.

Unlike many before him, the industrious Petros Stathis refused to give up on Croatia, and at the end of last year, in Croatia's southernmost town in the extreme south of Dalmatia, he intensified his efforts to finally get the project of Cavtat's Aman resort off the ground. Otherwise, Aman is a chain of luxury hotels in 34 locations in as many as 21 countries, and the first resort under that name was opened back in 1988 in Phuket.

Such resorts usually have only fifty rooms, and each guest is matched by four employees on average. In an interview with Vecernji list, Petros Stathis revealed that things really are finally getting going, being ''raised from the dead'' as it were, and that such a resort in Croatia, more precisely in Cavtat, is no longer just fiction.

Soon, you're coming to Croatia, does this mean that the Aman project in Cavtat is definitely going ahead?

I can say with pleasure, that the short answer to your question is yes!

I'm thrilled to be able to say that we've made progress and we expect the machines to return to their location at the end of this year. Otherwise, it was never the case whether or not the Aman Cavtat project would be realised or not, but as I mentioned before, we had a complicated beginning and we had to overcome many obstacles.

It's great, of course, to return to Croatia, but this project, believe me, is more than me. This is also about Croatia and our partners and people from this community. Our focus has always been on the future and the realisation of the resort in Cavtat so that the country could further profit through the Aman project, just how other countries have benefited from it. Whenever we start these types of projects, we want to complete it according to the plan, but it's rare that all factors are in our full control.

A project of such magnitude requires coordination and cooperation. We made a huge effort and we were lucky that we had positive support from many sides. Soon it will be six years ago since the construction of the luxury Aman resort at the location of the former Macedonia hotel in Cavtat was first announced, the first machines even arrived at the construction site, but soon after that it all stopped.

What made everything slow down over the last few years?

It's no secret that this project has a complex history. Since taking ownership of the site, we have been working hard and working with all involved parties to resume construction.

Why is Croatia interesting for you to invest in and is it easier to invest in Montenegro, for example?

As an international company, we always look globally.

Each country has a different approach to investment and development. I personally love your beautiful country and its people. I have strong family ties in Croatia and I've spent many happy moments here. Croatia is a wonderful country, rich in history, with beautiful nature and positive people with a positive business attitude that reaches international business boundaries. But the potential offered by Cavtat is the most attractive part of this story.

This is a great opportunity for us and will have a major role in current investments in Croatia. Our goal for Croatia is the same as for any other country in which we've built and invested, which is to create the best we can and leave a lasting, positive legacy of which the country can be proud. The goal of this project is to build the most beautiful resort in Croatia, in keeping with the environment and local infrastructure.

This opportunity is huge and we hope to act as a catalyst for further internal development in Croatia, now and also in the future. It's incredible when you think that more foreign tourists visit Croatia than, for example, Australia. And this is almost double the annual level. Tourism makes up more than 12 percent of Croatian GDP, and this money goes to local wages, through the construction of hotels and other related projects.

This country has a talented, entrepreneurial workforce. Half of the population speak English, but Italian and German are also spoken. And just look at the innovations you're responsible for! Everything, from chemical pencils to parachutes, bulbs, MP3 code, all created by Croats. It's time for Croatia to become more significant on the world stage, and we want to play a key role in that story.

What is the value of the investment in Cavtat and when will the new hotel be completed?

This is a huge 50 million euro project that will build the best of the best in Cavtat. This is our approach to building every resort. To provide the best. We wouldn't even launch the project if we couldn't achieve the best possible. This isn't just a hotel. This is an investment in the development and the future of Cavtat, through which we'll support local development, jobs and employment. We'll start with the works at the end of this year, and later on we'll inform you about our opening plan.

How will the Aman resort in Cavtat look and what will it offer to its guests?

Personally, I can hardly wait to see how it will look once when it's done. This is a new level of design and unification with the landscape, and local, natural materials will be used. If you look at any other Aman resort we've built, including the ones in Montenegro in Sveti Stefan, you'll get a very good idea of ​​what Aman Cavtat will be like.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for much more on investment and doing business in Croatia.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Mate Rimac Discusses Kia, Hyundai, Company Revenue and More

Celebrated Croatian entrepreneur Mate Rimac discusses Rimac Automobili's new partnership with Hyundai and Kia Motors, how he plans to give a certain percentage of the company to its employees, revenue, the future, and more.

As Jutarnji list/Gordana Grgas writes on the 14th of May, 2019, after it was announced that the Hyundai and Kia Motors had decided to invest a massive 600 million kuna in capital into Rimac Automobili, Mate Rimac announced in an interview for Jutarnji list that he would give seven percent of the company to his employees, from the cleaners to the directors.

We're bringing you the English translation of that interview here.

Why has Rimac Automobili entered into a partnership with Hyundai?

"We've been in contact with them for a couple of years and have been cooperating with them for a few years. They sent a strong delegation to us and, as soon as they saw the company, as soon as they saw what we were doing, they decided to invest immediately. In October last year they gave us an offer and we entered into negotiations. To have a partnership with such a company is very important for us. When looking at comparisons, they have a revenue of 250 billion euros, which is four times more than the Croatian GDP, and we're also working directly with the administration. Euisun Chung, who was there upon signing the contract, is the executive vice president, the grandson of Hyundai's founder, who's now taking over the firm from his father.

We're quick, small and innovative, we see and create the future and that's very interesting to them, this is hugely important for us because, on the one hand, we've got the Volkswagen Group and Porsche, and then we've got Hyundai and Kia on the other, and we've been so busy with work with these companies that we don't know where we're going!

The best thing is that they're not just buyers of our products but also shareholders, therefore it's in their interest that the company succeeds. They will help us build faster in areas where we may have some weaknesses, for example in industrialisation, in the transition from small-scale to large serial production.

Today, we're dealing with very complex systems for large car manufacturers, power systems, batteries, electronics, etc., we've achieved all that very quickly, but we need strategic partnerships. It's very difficult, especially moving from small to large series. We need money to help the company achieve its goals. We invest a lot, we're constantly expanding our plants, we employ more than 500 people, more than 300 engineers... We're not like the others, we're not wired money from the state but we get our money on the international market, and there's nowhere better to find money than with a company that really understands what you're doing, which is a partner and also a buyer,'' stated Mate Rimac.

What's the ownership structure of Rimac Automobili like now? You said you wouldn't remain the majority owner...

"Now I have .. (looks at his phone) Just a second, I have all of that in a document..."

Do you not know what your share is now? Does that not matter to you?

''Well, that's not important to me. People don't really understand that. I'm killing myself with this job and I'd be the happiest man in the world if there was someone who could run the company better than me, so I could just do what I like doing, the technical part of things. Now I'm the executive and technical director, and now I hold 47.7 percent, the Chinese camel group holds 14 percent, Hyundai has 11 percent, Porsche has 10 percent, Kia has 2.7 percent, and the remaining shares belong to the investors from 2012 and 2013.''

Are the employees among the co-owners?

"No, but we're working on that now, all of the employees will get a share, up until now, the ESOP was not worth it for them because of the tax. They'll probably get seven percent, from the cleaners to the directors, but not everyone will get the same share.''

How much is Rimac Automobili worth now?

"More than 500 million euros."

Why did not you not get to capital through an IPO, on the stock market?

''A lot of technology companies are now doing IPOs and they're actually losing money, they still have no stable and profitable business. Let's say Lyft, Uber or Snapchat... I don't want that. I want to make an IPO when the company's numbers are at that level. The company's potential is huge, and we have now used a piece of it and it's a shame to go out out onto the stock market with this company's situation. In 3-4-5 years, it will be at a completely different level. Besides, we have good access to capital outside of the stock market, we've got that luxury.''

How much was Rimac Automobili's income last year?

''I wouldn't go into income, there are no final reports yet. That's not our focus either, but a long-term trend. Here's an example - the car that we're developing for Hyundai now goes into serial production in 2023 only. Those are the cycles of our projects and to us, as well as to our shareholders, it's really neither here nor there what the financial outcome will be for this year or for next year, we're building a long-term story.''

Are you making a profit or are you still in the minus?

''We were still in the minus last year because we invested a lot. It's important to note that this minus comes from shareholder money, and everyone agrees that it's the company's plan.''

What will you specifically use this 600 million kuna for?

''For many things. This is part of our C investment round, and we'll still have investors in this round for another 70 million euros, but we don't know who that will be for now, but they will probably be financial investors. One of the things we will invest in is building our campus, our development and research centre and our factory, and another company expansion, employing a lot of people and equipping the company. For the transition to serial production, it's necessary to equip our production plants, test our products, develop them right up to the end, certify them... It's a big thing.''

Where will the new campus be? And what will be there?

''We're planning a campus for 2000 people because we want to have a longer-term solution. The headquarters of the company will also be there, as well as the development and research centre, production, testing, there'll be a hotel for guests and employees coming from elsewhere, kindergartens for employees' kids, restaurants, food production, hairdressers, sports facilities... I want it all to be integrated there.''

Where will this be located and when will you embark on construction?

''Near Zagreb. The location hasn't yet been agreed, we're look at a few of them, we're negotiating. Construction should start early next year.''

I guess the campus will be a little special in the aesthetic sense.

''Nine international and several Croatian architectural studies are currently working on suggestions for conceptual solutions for the campus. Among them was Lord Foster (British architect Norman Foster), we had a meeting the other day. He worked on Apple's campus and many other world-famous buildings. Everyone is so excited about this project and offering some great suggestions. They tell me that there's no such thing anywhere else, the combination I want - the campus being open to the public, the care for the employees and the connection with nature.''

The serial production of your C-Two has been announced for next year. Where are you going to do this?

''We got a hall in Veliko Trgovišće (Krapina-Zagorje County). The C-Two prototypes are still being done in Sveta Nedelja, and when we finish them, we'll move the manufacturing of the prototypes to Veliko Trgovišće. We already produce the batteries and the power systems there because we're out of space here. We're now there in five buildings and we were looking for something a bit closer to Sveta Nedelja, but there was just nothing there. Since there is no industry in Croatia, there's not much out there to rent. So now we're in Veliko Trgovišće, and we have centres in Split and in Osijek.''

Why did you open them there, so scattered apart?

''We grew so quickly over the last year. We now have fifteen engineers in Split, and about ten in Osijek, ane they're now our competence centres - in Split, we do our own automotive software development tool operation, and we deal with our high voltage chargers in Osijek.''

The prime minister has never been in your facility?

''No, never. To make it clearer, I don't ask for anything from the government. All I do is to urge the government to do the right thing to bring the car industry to Croatia. I have proved that it's possible.''

Make sure to follow our dedicated business and Made in Croatia pages for more information on Mate Rimac, Rimac Automobili, entrepreneurship, manufacturing, production and business in Croatia and much, much more.

 

Click here for the original interview/article by Gordana Grgas for Jutarnji list

Friday, 3 May 2019

Rimac Gives Croatian Government Lesson on Innovation and Car Industry

As Jasmina Trstenjak/Filip Pavic/Novac writes on the 1st of May, 2019, the Republic of Croatia does have a chance in the car industry, and it can improve its investment portfolio with certain active and proactive measures, open up opportunities for the development of new industries, and not miss this third train, since it has already missed two. Rimac Automobili, the company of one of Croatia's most successful entrepreneurs, Mate Rimac, is more than ready to help if Croatia truly wants to attract the car industry to Croatia. With some work put in to it, it's possible.

The above is one of the key messages given by Mate Rimac, the founder and CEO of Rimac Automobili, which was part of the "Croatia E-mobility Forum", held recently at the Esplanade Hotel in Zagreb and organised by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) and Jutarnji List, during which spoke about "How Croatia can attract the automotive industry".

In his presentation, among other things, analysed the countries that make up Central and Eastern Europe, what the automotive industry brought to them (growth, jobs, contribution to GDP...), which attracted investors, just how Croatia stands in this aspect. He also noted some key trends that are already transforming the car industry.

The automotive industry is completely changing, therefore the use of cars will eventually alter too. People will, at some point, no longer be car owners, they might not even bother to learn to drive, but all this will open up many new doors. Trends show that many cars will become autonomous by 2030, they will all be connected to the internet, more electrification will occur, and the car sharing will become more common. Mate Rimac discussed these points, full of experience as his own company, which has grown into a powerful technology company over the past decade and attracted more investment than all the technology companies in Croatia.

So far, Rimac Automobili has attracted more than 60 million euros in foreign investment, and that's not even counting the European Investment Bank (EIB), which has provided the company with a 30 million euro loan last year. The last investor in Rimac Automobili was no less than Porsche, and that was the very first time Porsche invested in another company.

''We don't want this to be the last investment, but we need to attract investments. Not only because of us, but also because of the state, so that the automotive industry invests in other things in Croatia. This year, a big investor will enter into the structure of our company. It's a 150 million euro investment, and the details on that will be known in a few weeks,'' revealed Rimac. He also emphasised the significance and the power of the branch in which he works - if the automotive industry was a country, it would be the fourth largest in the entire world!

However, rather unsurprisingly, Croatia is lagging behind quite significantly when compared to others, the automotive industry has spread very well across the whole of Europe and Croatia is almost the only exception. Two waves of investment in the region have already been and gone. The first was in the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovenia, the second was in Romania and Slovakia, and now a lot is being invested in neighbouring Serbia.

In the aforementioned countries, the automotive industry started practically from scratch and through the investments of other manufacturers, unassuming little Slovakia has become the largest car maker per capita in the world today. Therefore, in his extensive presentation, Rimac also commented on the way companies choose their sites, what their criteria are, and, when comparing Croatia with other countries, he found that Croatia is not one of the best candidates at all.

''Croatia has thirteen billion dollars worth of exports, with four million people. Slovakia has a million residents and more than 78 billion dollars in exports, out of which, 20 billion dollars of exports are in cars and parts alone. Let's look at some closer neighbors. Slovenia, with more than two million inhabitants, is exporting more than Croatia, and once again, their main export products are cars, and for us, it's wood,'' said Rimac, adding that these countries attracted companies with their favourable labour costs, but also for their talents and good faculties, infrastructure and available capital.

He also noted that Croatia has less than a billion dollars of automotive revenue, while, let's say, the Czech Republic has 41 billion dollars, and it has a strong potential. Thus, Croatia has less than half a percent of GDP, and the Czech Republic accounts for more than five percent of its GDP directly from the automotive industry, which is indeed a very defeating comparison. In the CEE region, investments have occurred thanks to generally cheap labour, and although much of it has well and truly bypassed Croatia, Mate Rimac is certain that there is a way to attract this industry still. Not necessarily with cheaper labour, but also with new opportunities.

''Hundreds of e-car models are coming onto the market. They're developed during a period of four to seven years and what's going on in the labs today will be on the roads within several years. There is a tremendous opportunity since today's share of three percent in sales will jump to 60 percent in the coming decades. That's why there's a lot of investment going on in the automotive industry, in startups and in technology companies. So far, more than 25 billion dollars has been invested through investment ventures, and this is where that industry is heading. There are investments in the development of batteries, in companies that make sensors and the like. The portfolio is bigger than it used to be. Also, there's a lot of heavy investment in development, and budgets are larger,'' noted Rimac.

Rimac also added that not everything is so black, although Croatia is of course late ''to the party'', and is missing out on the opportunity to join the development of the automotive industry by modelling itself on the countries of the CEE region. That industry, he says, is growing steadily, and countries are committed to receiving investments and attracting firms.

''We don't want just any investment, but those that give maximum benefit. But it's not about how much the state will encourage these industries to come. The state must first determine in which direction it wants to go, which industries it has, and then work proactively. England has a great initiative and it does very well because it has a complex program for the automotive industry, it works proactively, runs research centres, test sites... Therefore, proactive measures and projects are needed if there's a desire to go in that direction,'' Rimac said.

The presentation outlined nineteen action measures that the Croatian state should take to accelerate the automotive industry's progress in Croatia.

He mentioned that employees should be allowed to enter into company ownership and there should be a reduction in income taxes on high salaries.

Universities should make sure their programs include more machine learning, artificial intelligence, and electrical engineering.

Universities should employ professors from the STEM sector with scientific reputations, Rimac believes, and invest in equipping faculties and linking universities with actual investors.

In addition, the state should implement tax incentives for R&D-oriented companies, as well as meet with relevant engineers, as well as take a more proactive role in industrial development in co-operation with potential foreign investors.

As far as infrastructure is concerned, it's very important to encourage international contacts with cities that have developed automotive and innovation hubs and additionally invest in the 5G network for all households.

When it comes to specific measures for the automotive industry, among the measures listed above, it's necessary for foreign automotive employees to have temporary housing and job search support provided to the employee's life partner.

Additionally, one of the measures implies the establishment of an international school, where teaching will be conducted in foreign languages.

As far as the infrastructure of the auto industry itself is concerned, Rimac says that the testing of autonomous vehicles on public roads should be legalised, there should be an institute for electric and autonomous vehicles established, as well as an institute for artificial intelligence, as well as centres of competence and innovation hubs.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for much more.

 

Click here for the original article by Jasmina Trstenjak/Filip Pavic for Novac/Jutarnji

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Is Chinese Rescue of Croatia's Burdened Shipyards Inevitable?

If the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC) gives up, it will be difficult to find another candidate for the ailing Croatian shipyards Uljanik (Pula) and 3 Maj (Rijeka) which is in the shipbuilding industry and is also a strong and respected player. Could a Chinese investment be on the cards?

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Suzana Varosanec writes on the 29th of April, 2019, after yesterday's meeting with Prime Minister Andrey Plenkovic and his government ministers, Hu Wenming, Chairman of the Board of China's largest shipbuilding company China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC) confirmed that they are indeed moving towards serious consideration regarding the enfeebled Uljanik and 3 Maj shipyards, which have undergone months of turmoil.

''The prime minister gave us a very serious and detailed presentation of the whole situation,'' Wenming said, adding that they saw that these two shipyards were a very important topic for the Croatian public. "Not only did we bring people from our company - they're in charge of planning, we've already called on lawyers and investment banks, so we will outline what their views on the matter are after visiting the shipyards," Wenming stated.

With that, a key ''tour'' begins, because if CSIC ends up actually not being interested in putting its money into the situation, it will be a hugely difficult task to find another candidate in shipbuilding, which is a big player and has an interest in joining the European shipbuilding industry. Otherwise, this would be the first case of a Chinese takeover of a foreign shipbuilding company, so it is speculated that extensive calculations are being made, and of course whether they even want to have their first European shipyard is being considered. The CSIC is looking at the situation deeply and from all possible angles.

This event all began with the recent announcement of the arrival of the CSIC in Croatia with the aim of visiting the troubled shipyards in Pula and Rijeka. As was then announced, the CSIC chairman contacted Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang during his stay in the Republic of Croatia where he attended the summit "16 + 1" and after talking with the Croatian PM about the dire state of Croatian shipbuilding.

As things currently stand, the general belief is that the Chinese decision won't take long to come - it will be a simple and express "no" or "yes", while the third option, more specifically an unconditional "yes", will likely need to be waited for a little longer.

What the outcome of the potential Chinese presence in the Croatian shipbuilding industry is anyone's guess, and while some remain very suspicious of Chinese motives in Croatia in general, despite them already working on the long-awaited Pelješac bridge down in southern Dalmatia, whatever comes of their potential entry has got to be better than the current situation, especially for Uljanik.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for more information on Chinese-Croatian business relations, Chinese investments and projects in Croatia, doing business and investing in Croatia and much more.

 

Click here for the original article by Suzana Varosanec for Poslovni Dnevnik

Monday, 29 April 2019

Will Chinese Invest in Croatian Shipyards? Could Uljanik Rescue Happen?

There has been much talk, both positive and negative, about the potential for Chinese investment in Croatia. They're already building the long awaited Peljesac bridge down in Dalmatia and have since expressed great interest in the Port of Rijeka and in constructing a railway line linking Rijeka to Karlovac. 

Many believe that the apparently huge interest of the Chinese (and their money) is a bad omen, and that Croatia will end up trapped by yet more debt it can't pay off in the end. Others see it as a welcome move, despite their suspicions. Whatever the truth behind China's interest in Croatia is, the EU aren't too pleased with it, especially in the case of Peljesac bridge. Peljesac bridge is one of the most important strategic projects in the history of the country, and it has been financed mainly by European Union funds, the fact that a Chinese company has been chosen to construct it hasn't filled the European Union, nor the Commission, with much joy.

What will be the situation with one of Croatia's most pressing issues of late, its ailing shipyards? As Uljanik's dire situation continues to worsen, could the already suggested investment from China be its saviour at the eleventh hour? Maybe.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 29th of April, 2019, a delegation from China's largest shipbuilding company, China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation, headed by Hu Wenming, the head of the company, will arrive in Zagreb on Monday, as N1 reports.

The Chinese delegation will first be welcomed by Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and his government ministers at Banski dvori in the heart of the capital city. After exchanging all of the usual diplomatic pleasantries, they will discuss the burdensome issue of Uljanik (Pula) and 3 Maj (Rijeka), which the Chinese guests will visit on Tuesday.

At today's meeting between the Croatian premier and the Chinese delegation from CSIC, the bosses of Uljanik and 3 Maj, Emil Bulić and Edi Kučan, will present, as was confirmed to N1 by the Croatian Government.

Will the giant Chinese company actually agree to invest in Croatia's ailing shipyards, however? The answer to this question could be known definitively in as little as ten days, Economy Minister Darko Horvat announced last week.

Concerning the potential interest of the Chinese for the Uljanik and 3 Maj shipyards, Minister Tolušić said that this really is "probably the last chance to do something." If there is any possibility whatsoever that the Chinese will enter into some sort of investment arrangement to rescue the shipyards, they'll enter. If there's no possibility, they won't. We'll leave it up to them.'' stated Horvat.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for more information on Chinese-Croatian business relations, Chinese investments and projects in Croatia, doing business and investing in Croatia, working in Croatia, and much more.

Monday, 22 April 2019

Is Croatia Really That Important on Chinese Investment Map?

Just how important is Croatia on the Chinese investment map?

As Iva Grubisa/Novac writes on the 21st of April, 2019 China's investment in European Union countries has grown steadily over the past ten years, and the European Commission (EC) has recently referred quite openly to the Chinese as a "systemic rival" and "a strategic competitor," the BBC reports.

The European Union has thus introduced a new mechanism for the strict overseeing of foreign investment, in order to promptly react should they assess that foreign investment could harm the security of EU member states.

According to the EC's report, a third of total EU assets are in the hands of foreign companies and 9.5 percent of companies in the EU have owners based in China, Hong Kong or Macau. When compared with 2007, when this share was only 2.5 percent, it's a significant increase, although the share of European business in Chinese hands is still relatively small. By comparison, back at the end of 2016, 29 percent of EU companies were controlled by Americans and Canadians.

Chinese investment in Europe reached its peak back in 2016, when it amounted to an enormous 37.2 billion euros, followed by a visible slowdown.

"This is mainly a result of stricter control over Chinese capital, but also changes in the global political climate when it comes to China's investments,'' explained Agatha Kratz of the Rhodium Group for the BBC.

Just where are the Chinese investing the most? Although a recent visit by a large Chinese delegation has been accompanied the news of the growth of Chinese investment and ambitions here in Croatia, according to the Rhodium Group, the Republic of Croatia is not even in the top ten countries in which China is the biggest investor in terms of capital.

Between 2000 and 2018, most Chinese investments took place in the largest European economies, such as the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and France. The top ten were ranked in the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Portugal, Spain, and Ireland.

According to Bloomberg's survey last year, they have owned or used to own shares in four European airports, six naval ports, and as many as thirteen football clubs.

Nevertheless, one must not forget the new big Chinese project, the Silk Road, known as the "One Belt, One Way" Initiative, in which the Chinese plan large investments in European infrastructure to strengthen trade links between China and Europe. Croatia is along that ''road'', and therefore the Chinese are investing in Rijeka Port, the Rijeka-Karlovac railway, mentions of investments in Croatian airports have been floating around, and there's almost no need to mention the fact that the Chinese are building Peljesac bridge, although its cost is mostly paid for by European Union funds.

The Chinese are also investing in Croatia's neighbouring countries, building roads and railways in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and even in Northern Macedonia. In addition, Montenegro, as Novac.hr reported earlier this week, provided part of its state territory as a guarantee for the repayment of credits for the construction of part of the Bar-Boljari motorway to the Chinese Exim bank.

Since Montenegro has less of a chance of repaying this loan, it's not an entirely unbelievable option to remain without part of the state's territory, as bizarre as it might sound at first, and in that context, it's possible to understand some Croatian fears about entering into partnerships with the Chinese. This example is often cited as a warning to European countries to be extremely cautious when concluding economic agreements with China, to make sure they don't eventually fall into becoming a slave to the debts.

Trump's administration is much more closed to Chinese investment activities in the United States, and the authorities of other non-EU countries are much more cautious in entering into such partnerships, especially in the areas of telecommunications and defense. In any case, positively or negatively, China is certainly an extremely important player in Europe.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for much more on Chinese presence in Croatia. Chinese investment in Croatia, Chinese projects in Croatia and more.

 

Click here for the original article by Iva Grubisa for Novac/Jutarnji

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Number of Companies Which Would Reinvest in Croatia Falls Significantly

Croatia hasn't done the best job of showcasing itself in the investment world, with investors often referring to it as the ''Bermuda Triangle'' and with the phrase ''ABC'' having come to mean ''Anything but Croatia'', things aren't looking all too bright. Things can be altered, but as the old British saying goes; mud sticks.

As Ana Blaskovic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 16th of April, 2019, when compared to 2018, the share of companies that would reinvest in the Republic of Croatia dropped from 68 down to 54 percent. If they were asked to do so again today, almost half of the German companies operating here would decide against investing here again, and over sixty percent of those investors have an extremely poor economic picture of the country.

This is the result of a survey by the German-Croatian Chamber of Commerce conducted between February and April of this year among 150 of its member companies. In almost six years since joining the European Union, investors first had high expectations which quickly fell, but that was apparently somewhat expected. Following Croatia's accession to the EU, there was a period of transition in which investors were waiting anxiously and looking forward to seeing European practices come to life here, but that wasn't quite the case here.

Unlike former new member states of the EU who were given the green light to join during previous wave of the EU's enlargement, Croatia stalled, at least that is the overall impression one gets when asking members of the German Chamber of Commerce, including huge names such as Allianz, Siemens, Bauerfeind, Knauf, Müller, Spar, RWE...

"The survey is a perception, but it speaks about the overall impression of companies doing business [in Croatia], and that's that nothing important is changing,'' said Thomas Sichla, president of the Chamber. As stated, when compared with the previous year, the share of companies that would reinvest in the country dropped from 68 percent to 54 percent, which speaks volumes about perception and just how mud really does stick.

The fact that this isn't just an isolated case of pessimism, but is the contour of very worrying trends is best illustrated by the fact that eighty percent of the respondents had already previously responded to the survey.

While in Croatia almost half of investors would say "Auf Wiedersehen" to investing here again, in other countries in Central and Eastern Europe where parallel research was conducted, only one fifth of the companies who responded would say the same, so it shouldn't come as any surprise whatsoever that investments and their investors simply bypass Croatia entirely. Things aren't changing in Croatia, and if they are, it isn't fast enough at all.

Out of twenty Central and Eastern European countries, Croatia is still "relatively attractive" in eighth place on the list. Siemens' leader Medeja Lončar says that "more flexibility and speed in Croatia for a better economic and investment climate are needed", adding that Siemens will continue to invest in Croatia, depending on the business environment. If one scratches the surface, the companies that make up the German-Croatian Chamber of Commerce are almost repeating some very well-known criticisms that many have about Croatia.

At the top of that ''criticism list'' lies an insufficient fight against corruption and crime, followed by the burden of high taxes and general dissatisfaction with the tax authorities and the system despite the three waves of ''tax relief'' under Finance Minister Zdravko Marić. The top five barriers are Croatia's below par public administration and lack of legal security.

On the other hand, as a business advantage, investors pointed out the fact that operating in Croatia opens the door to the EU's single market and to infrastructure. Despite the ever-burning workforce problem that is rapidly evolving into an enormous problem of epic proportions for Croatia, employee qualifications and the quality of higher education continue to be among the main benefits in Croatia, are are productivity and employee motivation. However, in Germany the Chamber notes that the Croatian state should engage and talk much more to the private sector about the demand for labour and adapt its education system to that need.

With Croatia's continually deteriorating growth prognosis, which without reform is falling more and more, more than sixty percent of the surveyed companies find Croatia's economic environment to be very poor, and only a third claim it to be satisfactory.

Make sure to stay up to date by following our dedicated business page for more information on doing business and investment in Croatia.

 

Click here for the original article by Ana Blaskovic for Poslovni Dnevnik

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