Friday, 4 February 2022

Croatian Energy Investment: New EU Plan to Inject 6 Billion Euros

February the 4th, 2022 - Croatian energy investment with a European Union (EU) plan to pump in a massive 6 billion euros is attracting a lot of talk among those in the sector.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, as announced back at the end of last year, the European Union recently presented a plan which, despite being controversial for some, will consider new investments in nuclear energy and gas thermal power plants. On top of that, it will make infrastructure environmentally sustainable, ie green, which means that it will be facilitated institutionally through EU funds and private investments in such projects.

The supplementary delegated act on the taxonomy of climate sustainable activities to mitigate and adapt to climate change, which covers certain energy activities in the gas and nuclear sectors, is particularly interesting for Croatia and Croatian energy investment because there are several projects that could be financed directly from EU funds on that basis.

First of all, we can look at the second block of the Krsko Nuclear Power Plant, which is primarily planned to be built by the neighbouring Slovenes, for which the first permits were issued last year. Croatia is not indifferent to the project and is likely to participate in it. The Krsko NPP was built back in 1983 and it has remained unchanged to this day. It represents an investment, as well as maintenance and the distribution of energy in equal proportions between the two neighbouring nations of Slovenia and Croatia.

Although there are no details about that yet, it is certain that such a model would be applied to Block 2. The estimated cost of the project is between six and 10 billion US dollars, according to green activists in the wider region who oppose expanding nuclear capacity in Krsko and point out that it is, in addition to being dangerous and archaic, too expensive and unprofitable in regard to technology.

It is interesting that most of the opposition to the upgrade of Krsko comes from Austria, where there is a common position of politicians, as well as from the public and activists that this project must be prevented at all costs. Over more recent years, Croatia has invested heavily in gas infrastructure, and a similar trend is expected in the coming period. The LNG project on Krk proved to be important and functional, as an example. All energy experts have warned for the past 20 years, as far as this project is concerned, that LNG gas is too expensive and unprofitable compared to natural gas coming through gas pipelines.

That being said, they also didn't deny that this is a strategic infrastructure project that will give Croatia and the wider region, through energy diversification, much greater geopolitical power in the event of a political or energy crisis in Eastern Europe or the Middle East. A certain level of instability in the Middle East has become a normal situation for several decades now, and trade and energy flows have learned to "live" with it. The current crisis between Russia and Ukraine has been going on for about ten years, and it has recently escalated again, so the possibility of a war that could range from a low-intensity hybrid conflict through a spatially and temporally limited armed conflict to something continental and of global proportions is something we don't even want to think about at the moment.

Gas prices have risen from about 30 US dollars per megawatt (MWh) to almost 100 dollars. Recently, gas on the reference European gas exchange TTF in the Netherlands was just under 80 dollars. Therefore, it is clear that the existing floating LNG, worth a massive 234 million euros, of which the EU gave Croatia 100 million, has already justified its existence today and the authorities are probably already planning the second phase of the project - building a fixed terminal on the coast and increasing the existing capacities of 2.6 billion cubic metres of gas per year. It appears that Croatian energy investment isn't going to stop there, either.

Croatia has turned almost all of its city heating plants, mostly owned by HEP, into gas power plants, and although the authorities have been pretending over more recent years that the Plomin C project doesn't actually exist, nor has it ever existed, it is increasingly likely that, with its originally planned coal technology, it will also be constructed as a large gas power plant, perhaps on LNG given that this thermal power plant has its own port for docking ships, either for unloading coal, or in the future on LNG.

Additionally, a plan of a private investment in a hybrid gas thermal power plant in Slavonski Brod with a total capacity of 500 MW and an estimated investment value of 420 million euros has been operational for about fifteen years now. Only the listed projects in half of NPP Krsko, the fixed LNG terminal, Plomin C and TPP Slavonski Brod total almost six billion euros and it is clear that the new and green EU classification of nuclear and gas technology will have a great positive effect on Croatia and Croatian energy investment as time goes on.

The presented EU proposal will have to be studied by national governments in the coming period, and before it is officially adopted. The fact is that the EU has 27 member states and that each of them has its own energy strategy and position on the positive or negative effects of a certain form of energy, but the EU has come to this in such a way that one or several countries cannot veto the decision. The EU's plan will be rejected only if 20 member states oppose it, and it is already clear that countries like the Netherlands and Denmark don't want gas involved in the Green Plan, because they use it less and less and sometimes even reject it, while on the other hand, gas is of existential importance for Germany.

The nuclear lobbies in the EU are led by France and the Czech Republic, which are the loudest of them all, and aren't typically opposed by many other countries, which have both realised that they will NOT ensure their energy independence for many years to come. Many green associations and institutions, on the other hand, warn that it will be a step backwards because it will make it difficult and stop many renewable energy projects and give the public the so-called Greenwashing, or a false notion which convinces the public that the products, goals and policies of this plan are environmentally friendly.

The Ministry of the Economy and Sustainable Development pointed out that the Republic of Croatia, in accordance with the stated policy and its strategic documents in the field of energy, "Energy Development Strategy of the Republic of Croatia until 2030 with a view to 2050" and the “Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan for the Republic of Croatia”, encourages the development of renewable energy sources and the strengthening of energy efficiency.

"In this policy, we can see a number of opportunities for the Croatian economy, especially in the development of new technologies dedicated to renewable energy sources. In order to ensure further economic development, as well as a sustainable transition to clean and climate-neutral technologies, we believe that the inclusion of investments related to natural gas and nuclear energy can have a positive effect on the decarbonisation processes. Of course, all of the above must be dedicated to the ultimate goal of decarbonisation, both of the energy sector and of the economy as a whole,'' said the aforementioned ministry, headed by Minister Tomislav Coric.

For more on Croatian energy investment, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 3 February 2022

Dubrovnik Valamar Reshuffle Completed, Investments from Autumn

February the 3rd, 2022 - The Dubrovnik Valamar portfolio reshuffle has been completed, and a new investment cycle is set to begin this autumn, following the main summer tourist season.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, Valamar Riviera announced on Tuesday that a transaction with Imperial Riviera was concluded on the last day of January, on the transfer of the Dubrovnik Valamar portfolio to Imperial.

These are three hotels which boast a total of 947 accommodation units, Valamar Lacroma Dubrovnik Hotel, Club Dubrovnik Sunny Hotel by Valamar and Tirena Sunny Hotel by Valamar, with an acquisition value of 95.3 million euros and 100,676 euros per accommodation unit.

"Considering the interests of the acquirers of the hotels in question, the financing of this transaction was secured by taking over the company's credit obligations for two club loans with OTP Banka from Split and OTP Banka from Budapest, and four loans from the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development from Zagreb, totaling 90.2 million euros at the current overall weighted average interest rate of 1.36 percent and secured liens on the hotels being transferred, while the remaining amount of 5 million euros will be paid in cash.

These three hotels in the area of ​​Babin Kuk in Dubrovnik, together with the real estate previously entered into the Imperial portfolio in the process of increasing the share capital (with an estimated value of 352.8 million kuna), will form a sustainable and strategically important technological unit,'' they said from Valamar.

They added that through Imperial, a joint company for growth and development, the Dubrovnik Valamar portfolio, as a destination, will start with the further development of its tourism portfolio as soon as this autumn, through significant investments by both Valamar and AZ pension funds.

As previously announced, the five-year investment plan in the destinations of Dubrovnik, Makarska and Rab is worth 2.1 billion kuna.

For more, check out our dedicated business section.

Sunday, 30 January 2022

Biggest EBRD Croatian Investment: 176 Million Euros for Projects

January the 30th, 2022 - An enormous EBRD Croatian investment took place last year, with the investment of a massive 176 million euros in various private sector projects which were primarily focused on supporting domestic companies affected by the global coronavirus pandemic.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, according to the final results, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) recorded its largest investment in Croatia in three years in 2021.

The total amount of EBRD Croatian investments to date stands at a huge 4.1 billion euros, and the current value of the portfolio is 850 million. During 2021, 200 million euros were withdrawn, which shows that EBRD funds are being used to provide active support to the Croatian economy.

"The EBRD is very active in Croatia, but the EBRD isn't only there to finance projects. Our team based in the City of Zagreb raised more than 100,000 euros for earthquake victims in Sisak-Moslavina County thanks to the initiative of its employees and the EBRD's Community Initiative programme,'' said Victoria Zinchuk, the EBRD Director for Croatia.

The funds raised will support the equipping of the Vrbina Sisak Children's Home, the construction of a new "Miracle Room" for children with special needs in the region, and the construction and renovation of several private homes for vulnerable families.

Renewable energy sources

The EBRD's focus throughout the year 2022 will be on developing and stimulating the renewable energy market. This approach is in line with the priorities of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, which recently introduced a new programme of support for investments in renewable energy sources, which is expected to attract new investments in the sector and contribute to achieving renewable energy goals, including objectives set out in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan.

It is crucial for Croatia to take the steps necessary to improve its overall electricity network in order to enable the best possible connection of renewable energy sources to the national network. In partnership with the Croatian Economic Renewable Energy Association (OIEH), the EBRD has developed an action plan identifying priority investments and activities to enable the smooth integration of renewable energy sources into the country's existing energy network.

The EBRD and OIEH have also developed a comprehensive guide for investors in the sector, which is available on the OIEH website. The study was financed by the Bank in the amount of 150,000 euros. The EBRD has also identified three renewable energy projects that it plans to finance soon, making it a leading investor in this particular sector.

Entrepreneurs and companies are also getting a look in

The EBRD's SME Business Advisory Programme has also had a very dynamic year.

With the support of the European Investment Advisory Hub and the EBRD's Small Business Impact Fund, more than 32 advisory projects were launched during the year. In addition to that, several training sessions were organised for female entrepreneurs, women on supervisory boards, small and medium enterprises in the tourism and hospitality sector which were negatively affected by the crisis caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, as well as a webinar for start-ups on "Sources of funding".

The European Commission (EC) has selected the EBRD as its partner who will work closely with the Ministry of Physical Planning, Construction and State Property to work closely on legal and regulatory reforms.

Back in 2021, the EBRD invested a total of 10.4 billion euros, the second best result in a row, and this bank's support remains an important factor in the recovery of new markets from North Africa to Central Asia.

For more on this EBRD Croatian investment and much more, check our our dedicated politics section.

Saturday, 29 January 2022

Tesla's Nest: Luxury Lika Resort Construction Began, As Did Problems...

January the 29th, 2022 - Tesla's Nest, a luxury Lika resort which was due to spring up in Croatia's green heart, more precisely in Lovinac, encountered issues as it was being constructed. A true Croatian tale of red tape suffered by well-known investor Goran Strok.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Tesla's Nest in Lovinac was supposed to be the a luxury Lika resort owned by investor Goran Strok. Construction began almost three years ago and envisions an investment totalling 15 million euros in luxury wooden houses on an artificial lake was planned. Construction halted halfway through. The project is still hampered by financial issues, but also by a problem that was far from actually expected, according to a report by HRT.

The biggest problem of this colossal tourist investment in Lika's potentially excellent elite tourism sector was the artificial lake that was losing water. Several project changes have sucked up millions, the end is still far away, but the people of Lovinac aren't losing hope for this luxury Lika resort.

''If everything was done properly, I don't know if there would be anything better than that anywhere in Europe,'' pointed out Vojo from Lovinac.

''We and our children would have a place to work and that would mean a lot to us,'' added Ankica, also from Lovinac.

This luxury Lika tourism project envisages seventy larger and smaller villas with two restaurants, all of which would be maximally sustainable and powered by green energy. Seventy employees, mostly local people, would find work there, but everything got stuck in the complex process of closing the new financial structure.

''Unfortunately, we've approached the figure of 25 million euros and now those five million pose a problem. I think that HBOR has lost its appetite with us,'' said investor Goran Strok. Regarding the potential of this project, but also to help complete it, Strok addressed the Lika-Senj County Prefect.

''Of course, we still stand behind that project and we think it should be realised in this area, we'll become lobbyists for every positive investor,'' Prefect Ernest Petry stated.

If HBOR will not stand by the investor, it doesn't mean Strok or his luxury Lika tourism project which would revitalise this shamefully overlooked and abandoned but gorgeous part of the country will be shelved.

''I've never lost in my life, neither in sports, nor in business, nor during my 40 years spent in England, I've been married for 53 years, I'll push this project through, even if I die doin it,'' claimed a doggedly determined Goran Strok.

He did however point out that this is one of the most difficult projects in his career in which he started eighteen hotel houses, but he believes that by the end of the year, if all of the funds are raised, everything should be built as planned.

For more, check out our business section.

Monday, 20 December 2021

Sunce Hotels Investing 44.2 Million Euros in Facility Renovation

December the 20th, 2021 - The Dalmatian Sunce hotels brand are planning to invest an enormous amount of money in the general ''do up'' of their many facilities in the hope of 2022 being the year in which tourism and travel return to pre-pandemic norms.

As Jozo Vrdoljak/Novac/Jutarnji list writes, Sunce hotels informed the Zagreb Stock Exchange that their supervisory board has approved investments for further raising the quality and services in the company's facilities for the year 2022 in the large amount of 44.2 million euros.

The largest amount, as much as 13.6 million euros, is planned to be invested in the Elaphusa Hotel in Bol on Brac, followed by the Soline Hotel in Brela, for which 9.7 million euros has been set aside. The third largest investment is in the Borak hotel in Bol of 7.9 million euros, and 6.7 million euros will be invested in the Maestral hotel in Brela. About 2.5 million euros will be invested in the Kastelet hotel, and 150,000 euros in Neptune. 2.9 million euros will be invested in employee accommodation, and around 800,000 euros will be pumped into other accompanying investments.

They explained from Sunce hotels that these investments confirm the intentions of their majority shareholders to develop the company's future business by strengthening their market position by implementing new and developing existing capacities and services, as well as continuing to invest in raising the quality of accommodation for their employees.

Out of a total investment of 44 million euros, approximately 29 million is planned to be raised through a capital increase by issuing new shares, for which purpose an extraordinary general meeting of the joint stock company was convened. As for the rest of the funds, Sunce hotels plans to raise the cash by borrowing from commercial banks, using the possibility of withdrawing funds for this purpose as agreed when refinancing the financial obligations of the company back on November the 2nd, 2021.

Hrvoje Veselko, a member of the board of Sunce hotels, explained that all of these investments will be mainly focused on refreshing the company's existing accommodation units, ie in what leaves a real impression on the guests.

''These aren't investments in additional capacities, ie investments that require the obtaining of any permits. It's all mainly in relation to furnishing rooms with new furniture, refreshing our hotel rooms, reconstructing the bathrooms, decorating and refreshing the common and public spaces, horticultural planning and similar investments. We took the least invasive path because it's important for us to complete most of these investments by the beginning of the summer season next year, ie on May the 15th, 2022,'' explained Hrvoje Veselko.

Under the Bluesun Hotels & Resorts brand, Sunce hotels manages 11 hotels along the Croatian Adriatic coast, one campsite and one leased facility, or a total of 2,973 accommodation units, making them one of the largest hotel companies in all of the Republic of Croatia. They also own 50.2 percent of Brac Airport. In addition to tourist facilities in Tucepi, Brela, Starigrad Paklenica and Bol on the island of Brac, they're in a joint venture with the tour operator TUI AG and have a premium hotel, TUI Blue Jadran, with 161 accommodation units to boast of.

Since March this year, the majority owner of Sunce hotels has become the company Eagle Hills Real Estate, which took over the stake from the family of Jako Andabak for about 101 million euros. Eagle Hills Real Estate is engaged in real estate investing and real estate development with a focus on the markets of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and is headed by Mohamed Ali Rashed Alabbar, who currently manages development in the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Serbia and some other destinations. These are mixed-use facilities worth 50 billion euros. The company intended to build Zagreb's so-called ''Manhattan'', and is also known for the Belgrade on Water project, which it did develop.

In the first nine months of 2021, Sunce hotels generated an impressive 333.8 million kuna in operating revenues, which is an increase of 107.1 compared to the same period in 2020, which was dominated by the global coronavirus pandemic, The Group achieved a positive EBITDA of 116,405 million kuna, which is a better result than 102,650 million kuna, the amount recorded back during the same period last year. The main reason for the strong growth of EBITDA is the growth of operating revenues from the sale of accommodation services and non-board revenues.

The largest part of operating expenses for Sunce hotels are staff costs in the amount of 98.5 million kuna, which has been 23.5 million kuna more in the first nine months of 2021 compared to the same period last year, and material costs amount to 85 million kuna and are higher by 58.7 percent when compared to the same period in 2020, mostly due to higher activities and operating income generated from the sale of accommodation services.

Financial expenses for Sunce hotels have veen significantly lower for the first nine months of 2021, mainly because there were no net negative exchange rate differences. Total financial expenses amount to 9.7 million kuna, which is a decrease of 8196 million kuna when compared to the first nine months of 2020, when total financial expenses amounted to 17.9 million kuna. Net profits in the observed period amounted to 68.8 million kuna, and in the same period last year the loss amounted to 45.6 million kuna, again because of the pandemic crisis.

For more, check out our business section.

Wednesday, 8 December 2021

Croatian Tourism Investments Fall by Over 60%, State Should Step In

December the 8th, 2021 - A decline in tourism, and as such Croatian tourism investments, can more or less explain almost the entire decline in GDP. A massive 8.1% decline back in 2020 was certainly not what anyone needed, or could have ever imagined coul happen after the record year of 2019.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, the overall decline of GDP in Croatia back in pandemic-dominated 2020 can be explained by the decline in tourism, the most affected industry that has led to a decline across all related sectors, while at least 4.5-5 percent of total GDP growth in 2021 can be attributed to the subsequent recovery of tourist traffic.

This shows the exceptional importance of tourism for the Croatian economy, but despite a significant increase in tourist traffic this year, the situation remains dramatic as the crisis has caused a sharp drop in Croatian tourism investments and the recovery will not be spontaneous without additional investment incentives from the state.

Analyst Velimir Sonje warned about precisely that, presenting his research on the connection between tourism and the pandemic recently at the Congress of Hoteliers, organised by the Croatian Hotel Employers' Association (UPUHH).

“Croatian tourism investments and its activity is in a sharp decline of 60-66 percent when compared to 2019 and the duration of such a situation threatens to weaken the positive development effects of tourism, such as a proven contribution to alleviating emigration from Croatia. We got the impression that after this season, which was short, but successful, that everything would be fine and that we're finally returning to normal. But a spontaneous recovery won't happen unless there is a strong recovery in investment soon. This requires investment incentives, and investors' expectations are focused on the new Law on Investment Promotion and the implementation of a new regional aid map,'' explained Sonje, whose research is based on the results of a survey among the ten largest hotel companies in the country, with total revenues of 5 billion kuna recorded back in 2019.

"Paradoxically, despite the fact that tourism is crucial for economic recovery, the European Commission has allocated only 5 percent of the total amount from the National Recovery and Resilience Plan to this sector," concluded Sonje.

The Director of the Croatian Tourism Association, Veljko Ostojic, pointed out the four biggest challenges that the hotel business will face in 2022. With the return on investment, after the 2021 season in which Croatia had the best tourism results in the Mediterranean and Europe, the biggest challenge in preparation next year will be the sheer lack of qualified personnel, an issue present in the sector throughout Europe at the moment.

"In Croatia, it isn't only a question of engaging domestic workers, but also a faster and more flexible administration in hiring foreign workers. The second most important issue will be the continuation of investments in quality, without which Croatia will not be competitive in relation to other Mediterranean countries in particular. There will be an important contribution of money for NPOO projects, but also the legislative framework, primarily addressing the issue of tourist land. We're in intensive talks with the Ministry of Construction and State Property and I believe that in the coming weeks we'll be able to find solutions that will enable investments and generate significant revenues to the state budget,'' believes Ostojic.

The fourth important factor will be the unfolding epidemiological situation, which is still a challenge and a trigger for the majority choosing a holiday destination, but Croatia and the sector have done a great job in the last two years, so there are no severe worries. Hoteliers also point out the important challenge that inflation and the situation with supply chains will pose in financial operations.

"It will be a very big challenge that we won't be able to mitigate through rising prices and many will not be left for investment. Without the help of the state, through the Law on Investment Promotion and similar solutions, we cannot expect the recovery of the investment power of the tourism sector,'' warned Popovic.

For more, check out our business section.

Thursday, 18 November 2021

35 Million Kuna Cash Injection for Novigrad Hotel Aminess Maestral

November the 18th, 2021 - The Novigrad hotel Aminess Maestral is set to get a welcome 35 million kuna cash injection, and special emphasis is being placed on one particular area.

As Marija Crnjak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the well known Aminess tourist company has started the reconstruction of the accommodation part of the Novigrad hotel Aminess Maestral in Novigrad, Istria. This is an investment worth a massive 35 million kuna, and this reconstruction will finish off and complete the entire new renovation of the four-star Novigrad hotel Aminess Maestral, the opening of which is expected during the spring of 2022, with hopes for yet another fantastic tourist season that summer.

With this large investment, Aminess is completely re-doing the three hundred rooms and bathrooms of the Novigrad hotel Aminess Maestral, and special attention will be paid to the modern design and decoration of the complex, for which architect Visen Slamar from the renowned Porec-based architectural studio Tissa was hired, the company reported.

In addition to raising the overall quality of service and customer experience of staying at this particular Istrian hotel in a very popular holiday destination for Croatia's residents and foreign visitors alike, the long-term goal of this renovation is to extend the season of the Aminess Maestral facilities to cover the whole year.

Given the hotel's rich offer of a range of family, wellness and sports facilities, the hotel's operational period could stretch quite easily long beyond the classic three hottest months of the summer season, which Croatia has unfortunately limited itself to despite an array of content which would attract all sorts of visitors from across the world outside of the main tourist season.

In addition to investing in hotel rooms, Aminess plans to invest additional funds in raising the quality of this hotel next year as well.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

Sunday, 31 October 2021

Adris Investing 200 Million Kuna into Renovation of Zagreb Hotels

October the 31st, 2021 - The well known Adris Group is set to invest a large sum into the renovation of several Zagreb hotels, as well as into the famous Hotel Marjan down in the City of Split.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ana Blaskovic writes, the Adris Group's net profit reached a massive 605 million kuna in the first nine months of this year, compared to a considerably lower figure of 141 million kuna last year, and total revenues rose to 4.51 billion kuna (marking a significant increase of 23 percent), they announced from Adris.

At the same time, the income from the sale of goods and services increased by a quarter, reaching a staggering 4.18 billion kuna. Consolidated profit before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) also stands at 1.065 billion kuna, three percent below the pre-crisis levels of 2019. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic continues to leave its traces on the results of the tourism business, Maistra, although a recovery was recorded in the main part of this year's main tourist season which is promising.

The company recorded 1.2 billion kuna in revenue from sales of goods and services, 79 percent of the figure recorded from back in 2019. EBITDA stood at 602 million kuna, reaching 85 percent of what was realised before the global pandemic struck, as well as net profit 360 million kuna in total. The Istrian part of the tourism business accounted for 86 percent of sales realised back in 2019, Zagreb hotels reached 36 percent of the same, and those down in Dubrovnik reached 44 percent of 2019's results.

Adris has also recently announced 200 million kuna in investments this year, with the continuation of preparations for the renovation projects of Zagreb hotels and the Marjan Hotel down on the coast in Split.

Croatia osiguranje's net profit amounted to 320 million kuna, 9 percent more on an annual basis, with 2.27 billion kuna of total gross premiums written in Croatia (a marked increase of 5 percent).

Cromaris' EBITDA profit also jumped up by more than a quarter, reaching 52 million kuna, while the net result was 12.3 million kuna.

For more, check out our dedicated business section.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

American-Croatian Entrepreneur Boris Miksic Makes €7 Million Investment

October the 12th, 2021 - American-Croatian entrepreneur Boris Miksic has made an enormous seven million euro investment, and although the Croatian public still thinks of him in a political light, there's much more to this businessman than many notice, unless you're from Slavonia...

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Sergej Novosel Vuckovic writes, a very long time has passed since businessman Boris Miksic was a rival to politicians Stjepan Mesic and Jadranka Kosor back in the 2005 presidential election, becoming a sensation in the number of votes won, behind these two the third of thirteen candidates, but even today this episode seems to be the first association with him the public has.

For many people, on the other hand, in Eastern Croatia, he was and remains above all, an entrepreneur, innovator, and an employer, which he became known as with the beginning of his business development in Croatia way back in the early 2000s.

In Beli Manastir, Boris Miksic has had a Ecocortec polymer processing plant for about fifteen years now, which boasts anti-corrosion protection technology, which he patented in 1977 over in the USA in the Cortec Group. At the end of the year, the construction of a new factory in the Business Zone of Beli Manastir is now set begin. Boris Miksic's own investment stands at more than seven million euros.

''As part of the new factory (which will stand on land covering 5,000 square metres, with the hall spanning 2000 square metres itself), there will be a modern line for recycling plastic packaging and a plastic processing plant for further extrusion in our existing factory and in the factories of our partners in Japan, Turkey, Italy, France, Germany and Spain. Another three-layer extrusion line will also be installed in the existing hall and a new line for making plastic bags intended for industrial packaging will be there,'' explained the businessman.

Raw materials from renewable sources

After the construction of the plant in the Ecocortec production and logistics complex, about a hundred people will work there. According to Boris Miksic, Beli Manastir will be the largest factory with such an assortment in all of Europe and the second in the entire world, after the American Cortecs. It should be operational by the end of 2022 if there are no major delays in the supply chain. So far, Miksic has invested more than 20 million euros in the Republic of Croatia.

The entire Cortec Group is, by the way, still the world's largest manufacturer of so-called VCI packaging (which protects against corrosion) sold in hundreds of countries worldwide, and among the clients are some major players in the automotive and electronics industry (such as Mercedes, Toyota, Ford, Bosch, IBM, GE, Airbus, ExxonMobil, and Croatia's very own Koncar).

"With a new range of patented products based on raw materials from renewable sources, such as PLA plastics, we're positioned as leaders in the circular economy," added Boris Miksic.

The need for anti-corrosion protection didn't abate even during the coronavirus pandemic, on the contrary, business results last year and so far in 2021 were, according to Miksic, solid, and "in Croatia, they were above expectations". Revenues in 2020, according to Poslovna Hrvatska (Business Croatia), amounted to close to 50 million kuna, with profits soaring to an impressive 5.78 million kuna.

"Ecocortec had sales growth of 25 percent, which is just proof that my investment in my homeland was well thought of and even better performed thanks to excellent management teams and the dedicated work of all employees," said Boris Miksic. 90 percent of everything done in Slavonia is exported - to the EU, USA, China, Indonesia, Turkey, and Russia. Due to the lockdowns of 2020, the supply was somewhat disrupted, but more than 98 percent of the deliveries to customers was still carried out properly and on time.

"Our competitive advantage is vertical integration, so we didn't really have any delays," added Boris Miksic.

Recently, he further strengthened his position, his company Cortecros took over the Crosca/INA logistics centre in Kastel Sucurac in Dalmatia. They have been using this facility since way back in 1998 but now it is completely theirs and they have some very ambitious plans for it.

"Over the past few years, we've started the production of ecological anti-corrosion products for the market of Southeastern Europe, which we're expanding to the EU, Russia and the Middle East, thus doubling our capacities,"  Miksic announced.

Although he has very much distanced himself from the often murky world of Croatian politics, at least actively, when asked about the assessment of the entrepreneurial climate in Croatia in relation to what he found upon arriving here, the owner of Ecocortec recalls the motto of his political activity: ''when the economy breathes, society flourishes''. He added that he'd like to see Croatia dragged up from being at the very bottom of the EU in many cases.

''I've always had a vision of Croatia as an ecological oasis in the heart of Europe,'' concluded Boris Miksic.

For more, follow our business section.

Sunday, 10 October 2021

130 Million Kuna Investment to Result in New Pula Shopping Centre

October the 10th, 2021 - A brand new Pula shopping centre looks to be on the horizon through an enormous investment totalling a massive 130 million kuna.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, judging by the ambitious announcements and plans that have been seen so far, the gorgeous Istrian city of Pula could get another shopping centre instead of a dilapidated department store in the city centre - Pula Mall.

A devastated, neglected, once attractive building in the centre, right next to the green market, could soon return to its old glory in a new, even better edition as another Pula shopping centre finally looms. This was announced at the last session of the City Council by Mayor Filip Zoricic, in which it was said that this large project would soon begin to be realised. He touched on the situation with the market itself at the Council, saying that it doesn't look good, and that it seems ridiculous as Pula boasts one of the most beautiful Art Nouveau buildings in the entire Mediterranean, which dates from the beginning of the 20th century.

The wish of Pula's city administration is to bring this dilapidated old building back to life, following the example of Florence in neighbouring Italy, so they plan to revitalise it with additional gastronomic offers and other content, Glas Istre writes.

Zoricic also pointed out the need to arrange locations on both sides of the market, and in that context he also mentioned the potential new Pula shopping centre/department store.

''We're going to talk to the employers, make a plan and see how we might solve the appearance and condition of our main market, and that this is accompanied by the renovation of the department store,'' said Zoricic. In a conversation with the owner's representative, they agreed to clean up the area in November, and the new Pula shopping centre, he said, would get not only a new car park, but also a slow food restaurant, two shops from well-known brands and more. “It’s a unique space, the very heart of the city and it needs to look nicer than it does today,” he said.

This was confirmed in a telephone conversation by Predrag Djordjevic, the project manager, who said that the building is owned by the Luxembourg project company Istria Real Estate, which in turn is owned by the British York Capital. Djordjevic is very optimistic when it comes to the realisation of this ambitious project. If everything goes according to plan, it will be part of the urban renewal of the city, which, according to the idea of ​​the Mayor of Pula, should finally breathe some life back into the otherwise somewhat overlooked centre.

The interlocutor confirmed to them that there will be a new car park with 150 spaces in the basement of the new Pula shopping centre. He also provided a visualisation of the future, renovated building, which has already been named - Pula Mall. He says that this is a project in which as much as 130 million kuna will be invested.

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