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Odelo Slovenija Boss: Economy Hindered by Financing Trouble, Bureaucracy (interview)

Ljubljana, 13 September (STA) - Securing financing in Slovenia is virtually impossible at the moment and the situation does not seem to be improving, boss of headlight producer Odelo Slovenija Klaus Josef Holeczek believes, adding that the level of bureaucracy and taxes are also hindrances in Slovenia's economic environment.

Speaking in an interview with the STA, the boss of the company producing stop and turn signal lights for top German car makers says that there are several reasons that Slovenia is not the most popular destination for foreign investors.

"I am sure Slovenia has the know-how to pinpoint factors [decisive for picking a destination in which to invest], all that has to be done is to make such an attractive environment in Slovenia," Holeczek says.

"Additionally, the government has to build a competitive environment, which will be recognized from abroad for investors to see and notice," he adds.

"If we look at Turkey, for example, the land is 10 times cheaper and you can get the permission for building six times faster. These are the issues why foreign investors at the moment have no interest in investing in Slovenia."

Quizzed about the possibility that foreign companies that cover the Balkans from Slovenia might move to Croatia when the country joins the EU next year, Holeczek notes that EU membership is not the only factor that influences the decision.

"Slovenians have the right skill, show motivation and effort and despite all stereotypes, they know how to work as a team and make use of synergies. If Slovenia manages to make an investor friendly environment, I am sure it can be competitive with other economies in the region," he believes.

The Odelo Group recently got new owners, but Holeczek is convinced that the Prebold-based Odelo Slovenija, "the biggest production company in the Odelo group and still growing", will remain one of the main players in the Odelo Group in the future, with its "location, technology, know-how and highly motivated team".

The automotive market has intensified and "we need to be much more flexible to cover our customer needs", the CEO says, adding that Odelo Slovenija is "a Tier 1 supplier to the German premium brand automotive industry".

"In the past we have managed to convince our customers that we can deliver the desired quality and beyond at the right time and for the right price... In the next 12 months, for example, we have nine new projects in Odelo Slovenia alone".

The company, which grew 20% in the first six months of 2012 over the same period last year, has been in Slovenia for eight years, and Holeczek believes that coming to Slovenia was the right decision.

"On the other hand I must admit, had the decision have to be made today, I'm not sure it would be the same," the CEO notes.

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