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German Companies in Slovenia Moderately Upbeat

Ljubljana, 30 March (STA) - The majority of German companies in Slovenia are positive about their outlook for this year and most are satisfied with Slovenia as an investment destination, according to a survey presented at the Slovenian-German Chamber of Commerce in Ljubljana on Tuesday.

Slovenia edged out the Czech Republic to place first among 18 countries of central, eastern and southeast Europe where the survey is carried out annually among German companies.

The majority of the 405 companies questioned in Slovenia (57%) assess the current economic situation in Slovenia as bad and most (52%) do not think the general outlook for this year is much better, while 24% believe it is.

Meanwhile, 40% expect the situation in their sector - most German companies in Slovenia are manufacturers - to improve this year and 39% do not expect any major change. Half of the companies expect their own position to improve.

Last year, 67% of the companies reported a fall in revenues on 2008, while this year 57% project their revenues to increase on last year and 47% plan an increase in profit. Only 13% expect a further fall in revenues.

Two out of three say they will keep their headcount at the current level and 24% even plan hiring new employees. After the recent increase in the minimum wage, 52% project an increase in labour expenditure compared to other costs.

German companies are quite happy with the efficiency of Slovenia's public administration; 31% assess its services as very good and 30% as good. They are less happy about the tax system, 52% finding it bad or faulty, with 67% deeming taxes too high.

As many as 96% of the companies believe public infrastructure in Slovenia is good and 87% are satisfied with the level of legal security, while 57% are happy with labour productivity and labour costs.

German companies are also generally satisfied with the conditions for research and development and the quality and availability of local distributors. They are also relatively satisfied with payment discipline.

The companies assessed the Slovenian government's crisis measures as averagely good, saying they are goal-oriented, the survey, presented at a working breakfast hosted by the Slovenian-German Chamber, shows.

Concrete operating results for last year were presented by the chief executives of home appliance manufacturer BSH Hisni aparati and car parts maker Hella Saturnus Slovenija.

BSH Hisni aparati increased revenues by 5% and improved its market position in the Western Balkans. It put out 5.7 million household appliances last year and 6.5 million are planned for this year.

Last year the company employed 90 people, 20 of them highly educated, Rudolf Kloetscher said, adding that the company develops two to three new products every year.

Christof Droste said that Hella Saturnus Slovenija increased output by 90% in the first six month of the current financial year running from June to the end of May.

Revenues added up to EUR 135m last year and are projected to increase to EUR 200m this year. Hella Saturnus hired 500 new employees last year.

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