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Austria and Slovenia: good neighbours with a long history

The winner of this year's best foreign investment award for long-term presence, Rosenbauer, is one of the many examples of successful Austrian investment in Slovenia. Austria has, in fact, been number one foreign investor in Slovenia since independence. According to the latest data published by the Bank of Slovenia, Austria’s share of FDIs in Slovenia exceeds 30 percent: that's more than the combined shares of Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands, the other three major investor countries.

Slovenian Bureau of Statistics’ figures show that a total of 639 Austrian companies were active in Slovenia last year, employing almost 20,000 people. Their total revenue reached 4.3 billion euros or 5 percent of the total output of companies registered in Slovenia. Austrians are present in practically all market sectors. In terms of car sales, Porsche Slovenija, a part of Porsche Holding, with its seat in Salzburg, is the largest car seller in Slovenia, with sales totaling almost 400 million euros per annum. OMV Slovenija is the second largest petrol trader, with a strong network of gas stations and an annual turnover of 600 million euros. Slovenia's second largest telecommunication company, Si.mobil, is owned by Telekom Austria, and controls around 30 percent of the mobile market. 

Austrians are present in banking (Erste Bank and Bawag) and insurance (Grawe, Merkur, Ergo and Wiener Stadtische). Of course, Austrian investment in manufacturing is also significant; to cite two examples. Boxmark Leather (past winner of one of the Best FDI Awards) is one of the global leaders in upholstery leather, its Slovenian subsidiary contributing to the group's global success both through manufacturing and R&D: with 152 million euros in sales, Boxmark Leather is the 50th largest company in Slovenia. Palfinger is another global leader; the company produces lifting solutions, such as cranes, lifts and platforms, for commercial vehicles. Its Slovenian factory in Maribor has been successful for many years and earns revenue of 84 million euros. Rosenbauer, this year’s recipient of Best FDI Award for long term presence, is another Austrian global niche leader; it develops and produces firefighting equipment and systems; its Slovenian subsidiary produces fire truck components. Leykam Tiskarna received another Best FDI Award for its excellent business results. The company was founded by the Austrian company Leykam, one of the largest web offset printers in Europe. Its value added per employee reached 90,000 euros in 2015. 

Trade between the two neighbours is also significant. Austria’s exports to Slovenia have been growing steadily, reaching 2.7 billion euros last year. That’s only 2.8 percent of total Austrian exports, yet, in relative terms, Slovenia is number one Austrian export market, with a whooping 1,300 euros in exports for every Slovenian. Slovenia’s exports to Austria reached a value of 2 billion euros last year. This figure representing 10 percent of total Slovenian exports, making Austria Slovenia’s third most important market after Germany and Italy.

Obviously, being neighbours represents a solid basis for good economic cooperation, despite the recent Austrian decision to reintroduce border controls with Slovenia. But, the two countries also share a lot of similarities, and, above all, a common history. Slovenia was a part of the Hapsburg Empire for almost a millennium. It’s a long tradition that is reflected in culture and values. For Austrian investors, especially SMEs, Slovenia is a place where they easily fit in, in fact, it’s a natural choice.

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