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Investors confidence

Comfy-Angel Prilep

The company is mostly export oriented, 95% of the production is exported to the European market and 5% is sold on Macedonian market with a bigger focus on developing and exporting to Western Balkan Countries market in 2018.

One big advantage for our company is our position geographically. We are situated in the crossroad of the Balkans and have easy access by road to most European countries.

Strengths: geographical position, regular VAT returns, flat tax, professional relationship with the governmental institutions.

Our current weakness is lack of trained people for textile companies on the labor market, lack of energy sources, not having base textile industry in the country and higher import duty rate for textile fabrics in comparison to the rate in EU.

We would advise fellow investors to have a research on the labor market regarding skills requested by the industry they would like to invest in. 

Our recommendation for the Governments is Improving the roads, improving the education system towards more practical knowledge, supporting investments in new energy sources, supporting investment in base industry for textile and other industries missing in the region, supporting the companies in new technology investments, implementing other means of supporting the profitable and social responsible companies in their growth.  

Country of origin/ headquarters Size of investment so far (approximately) Date of market entry Number of employees Regional presence if applicable (which country besides base country in the region – production or distribution)
UK €7 million 2004 900 Selling products in Kosovo and Albania
Irena Jakimovska, Managing director

Siemens

For 130 years, through business in areas of generating, transmitting and distributing energy, production of oil and gas solutions, transport and infrastructure, Siemens has provided a key contribution to realization of capital investments in Serbia and has become a symbol of innovations, quality, reliability and engineering expertise.

The important link in Siemens Serbia is wind generator factory in Subotica which counts over 1,200 employees, and for a decade and a half of its existence the factory is marked as a symbol of Siemens quality. The new and planned reinforcement in Siemens Serbia is acquisition of Serbian company Milanović inženjering specialized in producing aluminum car body components for rail vehicles.

Each region and each market has its own specifics, I see a huge business potential here, in terms of economy development and quality workforce. Looking at business relations with the clients, there is present a certain level of partnership and even friendship, which can help you create better business environment and results.

Serbia has massive potential in industrial production in various verticals. Siemens’ success stories prove that Serbia in general is a very good place for a production location. Productivity and quality of the qualified workforce who are motivated and adaptive, with long industrial culture provides an attractive basis for every foreign investor. Serbia has good geographic location which enables quick and easy access to other CEE and SEE countries. Additionally, the universities bring very good engineers to the markets.

Balkan is a region in a transition process, which with its many challenges also offers great opportunities for a future prosperity and chance to drive this part of Europe forward - to the new age - the one we can see in more developed countries in the world. This creates comparative advantage for this region, and the best indicator that the business climate is changing and enhancing is the increase in the number of major global companies choosing this location for their production site.

Serbia is definitely going forward but being a country in transition implies that digitalization of industry sector is still not on a high level and that investing in Industry 4.0 is a priority for further strengthening of country’s economy.

Region is moving forward in providing support to companies and their investments. Every year the situation is better, and we can all see clear improvements and new investments and creating stronger industrial base.

Country of origin/ headquarters Size of investment so far (approximately) Date of market entry Number of employees Regional presence if applicable (which country besides base country in the region – production or distribution)
Germany Austria NA 1887 – First Siemens Project in Serbia 1996 – company founded Siemens d.o.o. Belgrade App. 1,500 Montenegro, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, (Kosovo)
Udo Eichlinger, CEO

Arcelor Mittal

ArcelorMittal Skopje is one of the largest steel product manufacturers in the Balkans offering Cold Rolled Coils & Sheets, Galvanized and Pre-painted Coils, mainly for the General Industry segment on the regional market.

The investment in Flat Steel part of old Zelezara unit happened during the privatization period, with today’s operation focused on Rerolling, Annealing, Hot Dip Galvanizing and Organic Coating mainly for construction, roofing and cladding. Key arguments in the venture were to take advantage of the existing installations and great know-how of the workforce and management and from a commercial perspective to be present with a close-to-the-market facility in the growing Western Balkan market and neighboring EU-markets.

We have chosen Macedonia as first, from an operational perspective, Macedonia offered an already existing industrial culture, including several decades of steel production, so skills were available to develop a sustainable growing industry; this includes a structure of technical and business oriented universities.

So far we can also say that we always had open doors and competent discussion partners in administrations and ministries, independently of the ruling party.
For sure, progress is still required to improve the energy cost situation for which Macedonia has certain structural inconveniences, likewise for the road and rail infrastructure, as well as for the cross-border business improvements are required, political stability should be a permanent status and the integration in the EU-market should not be further delayed.
We face issues linked to some legal changes with regard to the property of water rights and the linked supply security and costs – these are examples underlining the importance of legal stability.
In a growing economy the development of qualified skills remains an issue, the current intent to strengthen the links between high schools and universities, also to implement the Dual educational System should help to move in the right direction.

We recommend to the Government to speed up EU, improve cost competitiveness through affordable and efficient infrastructure, energy, environment, service supplier infrastructure, availability of qualified skills - I think all of these issues are clearly identified, discussed and tackled. Special attention should be put on avoiding disturbance on certain markets by suppliers from countries applying prices which should be controlled by anti-dumping measures; hence market regulation instruments which are applied in the EU should also be applied in the region, the contrary generally leads to a significant disequilibrium.   

Many of the points mentioned above are not expected to drastically worsen in the next years, at the contrary, if you look for instance at the Forecast of the World Bank for the hole Western Balkan area it is rather showing signs of optimism. So if the existing challenges are rightly tackled by all stakeholders, there is a real chance for the optimistic scenario to happen.   

Country of origin/ headquarters Size of investment so far (approximately) Date of market entry Number of employees Regional presence if applicable (which country besides base country in the region – production or distribution)
Luxemburg €120 million 2004 455 Romania, Bosnia
Arcelor Mittal, Wolfgang Maringer, Plant Director

Philip Morris International

Our operations in Serbia comprise the cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris Operations a.d.Nis (PMOP) and Philip Morris Services d.o.o. (PMSE). In total we employ around 900 people across the country. The Niš factory is one of the most advanced operations in PMI’s global network of factories and we are the market leader in Serbia.

We see advantages of the reigon in availability of skilled workforce, good strategic position and competitive operating cost.

Transparent, predictable and inclusive legislative process, rule of law, together with enterpreneurial spirit of a Government itself are key prerogatives for creating good investment climate in country and improving competitiveness.

Country of origin/ headquarters Size of investment so far (approximately) Date of market entry Number of employees Regional presence if applicable (which country besides base country in the region – production or distribution)
USA US$ 830 million 2013 900 Regionally our products are available in Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Cyprus, and Turkey.
Jelena Pavlović, CEO

Ball Corporation

The €75 million investment in aluminium can production facility in Belgrade came as a logical step after throughout researches of the regional and local market development possibilities.

Ball invested in Serbia believing in regional market and its further development. Furthermore, we were impressed by huge number of local educated and highly skilled people that were able to work in a multicultural environment where English language is used. Having that in mind, after 10 years of operation in Serbia, Ball decided to establish a big Global Shared Service center that now employs almost 100 highly skilled people who are working as a support to all other Ball facilities and offices all over Europe and AMEA region.

Overall experience during Ball`s operation in Serbia is of course very positive. The biggest strength is that the regional market is slight ahead of European average regarding beverage consumption growth and operations can work with optimum cost base. No less significant is the availability of skilled and dedicated employees. I am very pleased that Serbia and our valuable people have proven that the systemic planning of an US company in synergy with dedicated and professional staff can boost business to the highest level and bring world-class results. On the other hand, as a fully and fast operational US company we see some weaknesses that should be overcome such as slow bureaucracy and paperwork, especially in the area of issuing of local permits, customs procedure, digitalization etc. Also, in order to facilitate the work of foreign companies, adjustment to European laws should be more efficient.

Based on the experience and results achieved in practice, I would like to tell all foreign companies that in Serbia they have a huge prospect for success.

As recommendation to the Government, I would suggest that it would be very helpful and professional to introduce governmental key accounts for each area of businesses and establish a one point of contact for big investors. That would surely encourage foreign companies to invest in Serbia and reduce timing burden that is more and more critical when doing business.

Country of origin/ headquarters Size of investment so far (approximately) Date of market entry Number of employees Regional presence if applicable (which country besides base country in the region – production or distribution)
USA €150million 2005 Close to 300 One production facility in Belgrade. Distribution is active in all countries in Europe and the region as well.
Branislav Savić, CEO

IKEA

The biggest challenge for IKEA were administrative procedures that we had to face with; lack of urban planning and infrastructure; legal administrative issues etc. On the other hand great support from officials was received by introduction of an online platform for the issuance of an electronic building permit.

It is important to have a good organization in place and make sure that all cooperation with vendors and officials is done transparently.

It would be great to align regulations and administrative procedures, as well as introduce online registers and digital platforms for public administration purposes.

This market is in the phase of many investments and is developing very fast. Great potential for further growth.

Country of origin/ headquarters Size of investment so far (approximately) Date of market entry Number of employees Regional presence if applicable (which country besides base country in the region – production or distribution)
Sweden €70 million 2017 Approx. 400 Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Romania
Vladislav Lalic, Regional Property & Expansion Manager

Perutnina Ptuj

Perutnina Ptuj-BH doo Breza has been operating since April 2008 as the member of the PP Group, and is the most modern plant for processing poultry meat in Southeastern Europe. Already in the first year of work, the company produced 2,165,000 kilograms of various poultry products, while the entire profit was reinvested in the construction of distribution capacities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, expansion of the retail network and the procurement of additional technological equipment.

We were, amongst other benefits, attracted to Bosnia and Herzegovina by competitive labor force prices in comparison to high professional standards of local employees. Also, in the first years of operation, we had enjoyed tax policies which were highly in favor of foreign investors. A stable local currency pegged to Euro, low inflation rate as well as the rising incentives towards integration into the EU market, were additional levers for us to invest and settle in this area.

Besides the benefits already mentioned, we could add the existence of a well-developed institutional network for foreign investment promotion, simplified start-up procedures, and comparative advantages of Bosnia and Herzegovina in certain areas in relation to other CEFTA countries….

However, there is still a lot of space for improvement – i.e. the pace of conducting EU integration processes must be accelerated, the infrastructure modernized, the business regulations aligned and duly implemented across Bosnia and Herzegovina economic space, the efficiency of administration improved,… In this way it is possible to diminish the political instability as well as the economic ‘grey zones’ and thus create the environment for even greater investments.

Through developing production, retail and distribution network, increasing the number of employees, reinvesting into infrastructure and equipment year by year, Perutnina Ptuj-BH doo Breza has managed to successfully realize the investment in Bosnia and Herzegovina and justify all investor’s expectations. All this clearly takes time, hard work and commitment…that is our message for future investors in this country.

In order to attract a much larger number of foreign investors to consider investing into Bosnia and Herzegovina, the governments of all levels in the country ought to closely cooperate and work together. They should be led by the fact that the whole country would certainly benefit from new employment generated by foreign direct investments, which would eventually boost the economic development and living standard for all the citizens.

We expect the Reform Agenda to be fully implemented and thus provide impetus for improvements in overall economic, social and political scenes of the region. Large infrastructure and other development projects should be set in motion by this process. Hence inevitably, this must also include special policies for creating favorable environment for both the FDIs, and for doing business in general.

Country of origin/ headquarters Size of investment so far (approximately) Date of market entry Number of employees Regional presence if applicable (which country besides base country in the region – production or distribution)
Slovenia €22,5 million 2008 316 BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA, FYR MACEDONIA, MONTENEGRO
Edina Velić, Head of Legal Department

Balfin group

Total investments have exceeded €300 million in the 15 years time frame and we are considered to be successful.

As a local company we understand the region and see the potential and development of the area. The attractive features of the area are the relatively undeveloped markets, the ability to be a first mover in many segments and continually positive economic growth in the region.

Our overall experience has been quite positive, given the undeveloped nature of most business segments. The negatives generally have been a lack of available experienced staff, and the unclear and uncertain rules and regulations and laws in the region. However as stated this can be a competitive advantage if you have the patience and perseverance to push forward.

Our advice for fellow investors - Perseverance is required to accomplish things, but the market is generally open.

Our advice for governments - Rule of law, consistent movement towards EU accession and harmonized customs and tax regimes to have the region thought of as one area, rather than 6 countries.

Country of origin/ headquarters Size of investment so far (approximately) Date of market entry Number of employees Regional presence if applicable (which country besides base country in the region – production or distribution)
Albania €300 million 2003 5000 Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Steven Grunerud, Vice President - Mergers and Acquisition

Intesa Sanpaolo group - Banca Intesa

After acquisition, local bank Banca Intesa Beograd was integrated in Intesa Sanpaolo group with strong focus on further development of commercial banking services, both for retail and corporate customers.

Western Balkans 6 region was and still is underbanked (based on average debt to income ratio) compared to other regional countries (Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary...). In addition, this region is poised to record better than average growth figures of economic output, employment, wages, new investments that shall positively affect banking revenues. Furthermore, planned accession to EU will foster stability and further economic development of the region.

Overall experience is very positive. Serbia recorded overall good macroeconomic stability and solid growth numbers. Due to strong focus on improvement of economic conditions and well-educated and relatively low cost labor, significant growth of FDI was realized which positively affected business environment.

Foreign investors shall understand that each country has certain specifics and that local customization of the global approach is needed in order to succeed.

General recommendations for all regional governments are: to improve judicial system and enhance rule of law, to finalize transition from old economic model characterized by large influence of state and state owned companies to privately owned economy, to increase investments in infrastructure.

In general, region shall have positive outlook, however certain differences exist among the countries depending on their current macroeconomic standing.

Country of origin/ headquarters Size of investment so far (approximately) Date of market entry Number of employees Regional presence if applicable (which country besides base country in the region – production or distribution)
Italy €1 billion 2005 2924 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania
Draginja Đurić, CEO

Austronet

Since 2007, we have invested BAM 10,000,000 in the development of production facilities in Kozarac, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The main reason for the investment in Bosnia, was my decision to help my homeland after the war. Also, the relatively low labor costs and the short distance from the EU border to Kozarac (near Prijedor) were other reasons for making my decision to invest here.

The overall experience has been positive. Despite certain technical barriers that arise (slow administration, complicated legal regulations, possible corruption), it is not necessary to lapse the investment because in the end, investment in production and work in Bosnia and Herzegovina pays off.

As for recommendations to the governments, there is a need for more positive energy through the media, on-the-field work with older companies that, as an example, can be used to represent the country and its capabilities...Also the taxes need to be reduced in relation to the ones in the surrounding countries.

If the above remarks were to be enforced, I think there would be plenty of new investments that would improve the overall ambience of the country itself and stop the young people from leaving the country.

Country of origin/ headquarters Size of investment so far (approximately) Date of market entry Number of employees Regional presence if applicable (which country besides base country in the region – production or distribution)
Austria €5,112,919 2007 81 Production in BH, distribution from Austria to EU
Enes Kahrimanović, CEO

KIVO LLC

In June 2016, KIVO Kosovo was ISO 9001 certified and since April 2017 the site was BRC certified as well. In the same month a new regenerating line for production waste was installed.

Entrepreneurship requires courage, patience, resilience and often a little bit of luck as well. KIVO and the Kosovar company VM3 were each separately investigating possibilities to invest in a production facility, when, through a match-making program, they came into contact and decided to join powers.

Thanks to the intense and warm cooperation, fast learning and hands-on mentality of the team in Kosovo under management , all original plans that were developed in 2013 and onwards have been realized successfully. The successful project implementation has led to more chances and possibilities. This is demonstrated by the fast expansion to double the capacity.

Governments of the region should learn from Kosovo example to further improve competitiveness of the region.

We see region bound to EU only.

Country of origin/ headquarters Size of investment so far (approximately) Date of market entry Number of employees Regional presence if applicable (which country besides base country in the region – production or distribution)
Netherlands €9 million Jan 2015 110 NA
Maliq Gjyshinca, Manager

Ipko

We invested in Kosovo as there were no competition. Combining unique experience in a dynamic and emerging market with dedication to provide cutting edge technology to Kosovars, IPKO has established firmly itself as a fundamental pillar of the new economy in Kosovo. What we see as the weakness of the market is implementation of the laws.

Kosovo is considered as a country with a young population. About 35% of the population is unemployed, whereas youth unemployment is 61%. The high unemployment rate reflects the low production/services level, but also the gap between the skills of the labor force and market requirements. According to the World Bank, students in Kosovo are often left unprepared to enter the labor market.

We would advise to the Government to improve inter-border flow of goods and people (customs procedures, police and customs border systems).

We see the region to remain being interesting for labor-intensive investments if no bigger political turmoil occurs.

Country of origin/ headquarters Size of investment so far (approximately) Date of market entry Number of employees Regional presence if applicable (which country besides base country in the region – production or distribution)
Slovenia €50 million July 2013 250 NA
Robert Erzin, Manager

Illyria sh.a.

Located in the middle of the Balkan, Kosovo serves as a connecting bridge between the South Eastern European countries. Through its unique geographical position, Kosovo has access to the growing markets in Balkans and Central Europe that covers 28 million potential customers. The road network, consisting of 630 km of main roads, has been rebuilt to a large extent over the past years, with the addition of some completely new roads. With the construction of a highway connecting Albania and Serbia directly through Kosovo, it is becoming an important gateway in the corridor connecting the Adriatic Sea to Western Europe. Kosovo has the youngest population in Europe with 70 percent of the population being under the age of 35, etc.

Strengths: Availability of skilled labour, Low labour costs, Quality of Life, Existing foreign investor’s experiences.

Weaknesses: Country legal framework, Political stability.

We would recommend to the Government to further focus on vocational education, skilled workforce,- Visa liberalisation, implementation of industrial standards,Investment in- and improvement of Quality of our products / services,Financial support, e.g. Export loans, co-finance of marketing, quality assurance, export activities, etc.

Integration into EU market should be the only agenda for the region.

Country of origin/ headquarters Size of investment so far (approximately) Date of market entry Number of employees Regional presence if applicable (which country besides base country in the region – production or distribution)
Slovenia €3.2 M Aug 2008 100 NA
Teuta Abdullahu Bunjaku, Head of HR

Van Hool Macedonia

We have chosen Macedonia because of previous existence of same industry (bus manufacturing), Government proactivity in helping for quick start up of new investment through institutions, low cost labor market, positive business climate and readiness for appropriate law reforms, fairly good infrastructure (gas, electricity, roads), possible local suppliers of goods and services, state incentives.

The most attractive feature could vary for different types of industry: from the low cost labor, to existence of skilled labor or existence of local suppliers, or positive and friendly business climate towards foreign investors, but all of this in a politically and legally stable environment.

Strengths: business climate

Weaknesses: lack of available skilled labor, complex and lengthy administrative processes (ex. construction or work permits)

Recommendations for the Governments of the region is to improve inter-border flow of goods and people (customs procedures, police and customs border systems).

Country of origin/ headquarters Size of investment so far (approximately) Date of market entry Number of employees Regional presence if applicable (which country besides base country in the region – production or distribution)
Belgium €40 million July 2013 1,100 NA
Avram Stojcevski, Plant Manager

EVN Macedonia

EVN Macedonia AD works with electricity supply, electricity production, electricity distribution. Market leader in Macedonia with more than 50% market share.

We entered the market as winner of privatisation tender in 2006. At that time Macedonia showed GDP growth rate of more than 8%.

How we see the market? Strength: Flexibility due to smallness of the country, Weakness: underdeveloped tourism

We would recommend to fellow investors to plan on the long-term.

Country of origin/ headquarters Size of investment so far (approximately) Date of market entry Number of employees Regional presence if applicable (which country besides base country in the region – production or distribution)
Austria €300 milion 2006 2000 Bulgaria, Croatia
Stefan Peter, Management Board Chairman

Savana Commercial Retail

One of the main reasons of Savana AB to invest in the region is seeing this market as good opportunity for investing in the trade and service industy. The overall economic activity has been increasing strongly with the service industry where the political and economic stability are the best guarantees for successful business.

Our company considers that strength is credit solvency, professional staff and quality of the service. The company considers that weaknesses are presented in the poor infrastracture and high taxation on the real estate.

The recommendation for fellow invetors would be to invest in right investments, no overindebted, accompanied with the professional engagement and the profit might be expected on a long-term period. Understandably, the political and economical stability are the prerequisite for the successful investment.

The general and the specific recommendation to the Government would be to modernize the infrastructure in the country, to become more competitive in all the business spheres with the focus on the lower taxation level in real estate. The recommendation is empowering small family businesses in various activities that would launch the country’s economy itself.

We are ready to invest again in some new interesting projects in the period to come in this region.

Country of origin/ headquarters Size of investment so far (approximately) Date of market entry Number of employees Regional presence if applicable (which country besides base country in the region – production or distribution)
Sweden €28 million 2016 80 NA
Goca Damjanović, Financial Manager

Ohridska Banka Societe Generale Skopje

Société Générale is sixth largest in Europe or seventeenth by market capitalization. The company is a component of the Euro Stoxx 50 stock market index. The enry in the market was by acquisition of Local Bank - Ohridska banka in 2007 bank - direct investment. Significant above average increase in commercial activities with respected qualitative performance.

The fact is that the banks' high share of around 90% (in Macedonia) in the structure of the financial system, and in the offer with dominant conservative products, deposits and loans identifies adequate space for significant potential for growth, in general as well as an assortment of modern banking services. The presence of a world-known global brand of the Societe Generale type is a significant argument of the client’s side to be part of the modern and global banking trends, as well as appropriate support to foreign direct investment from other global investors to the local market.

Recommendations to fellow investors when considering investing in Macedonia: Positive, acceptable regulatory framework, significant market potential with simultaneous quality potential of the resources side - labor, favorable tax rates and stimulating solutions for investing in investments.

Strength sides: a well-regulated and stable financial system, the potential for growth, availability of quality workforce, relatively low taxes and stimulating investment motive.Weak sides: impact from the political environment to the current economic processes, prolonged integration processes with the EU and NATO. Recommendations to fellow investors when considering investing in Macedonia: Positive, acceptable regulatory framework, significant market potential with simultaneous quality potential of the resources side - labor, favorable tax rates and stimulating solutions for investing in investments.

Governments in the region should focus on regional co-operation on the basis of comparative advantages, goods and services flow, infrastructure (road and railway) connection, avoidance of short-term protectionist and population measures.

Country of origin/ headquarters Size of investment so far (approximately) Date of market entry Number of employees Regional presence if applicable (which country besides base country in the region – production or distribution)
France €55 million 2007 404 Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania
Branka Pavlovic, President of the Management Board

Telenor Montenegro

Telenor was the first mobile operator in the country and after 21 years of performance still have the leading position. It was the first operator to offer 4G technologies to its customers and now have covered 98% of the population. Telenor is part of Telenor Group, which is ranked 6th among the world's top ten mobile operators with ownership interests in 11 telco companies across Europe and Asia. We have defined a strong platform for future growth, summarised in the strategy and the Telenor Way.

In 1996 Telenor Group has seen the potential for investment and growth in Montenegro. Therefore, through consortium with several partners established a greenfield project with the plan to have 30,000 customers in 10 years but succeeded in that plan in only 2 years. After 21 years in Montenegro, Telenor became integrated part of local economy and society. By acquiring spectrum in the auction in 2016 Telenor has secured business continuity for the next 15 years. The telecom industry is - and will continue to be - the industry that connects modern society together and their products are the foundation of becoming more efficient by using new systems and modern telecommunication.

A modern, predictable, consistent and transparent business environment along with the rule of law drives the value of the telecommunication industry and economy at large. Overall market revenues in telco sector are declining while on the other side services are evolving fast, consumer behaviour is shifting even faster, so operators will have to create the business models that are both agile and adaptive. Digital environment should support global competitive initiatives while telco operators remain important investors and partners to the local governments.

Adoption of the new business development trends can accelerate business productivity, thereby generating income, jobs and state revenues which requires pro investment policies by the Government to sustain the sector's momentum, by reviewing all factors affecting operators: macro-economic, the market place, government policy, regulation, legacy aspects and technology changes, customer expectation and globalization. A structured dialogue with the private sector in the region will ensure that all activities are implemented to bring benefits overall the region.

Digital transformation is changing the way we communicate, work and live. The use of digital technologies can generate significant benefits in terms of speed, efficiency and transparency across borders for the economy at large.

Country of origin/ headquarters Size of investment so far (approximately) Date of market entry Number of employees Regional presence if applicable (which country besides base country in the region – production or distribution)
Montenegro €151 million 1996 App. 210 Hungary, Serbia and Bulgaria
Ljudmila Popović Kavaja, Legal, regulatory and corporate affairs manager

Societe Generale Montenegro

SGME won several international and national awards and acknowledgements in previous years such as the awards by The Banker magazine published by Financial Times Group from London, as well as the Euromoney Award.

In the period 2005-2007, Societe Generale Group implemented its strategy of expanding to emerging markets, and in the end of 2005 it also acquired the Podgoricka Bank. In that period, several other banks in the region (Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, as well as the intensification of retail banking in the Serbian market, where SG was present much earlier, but more on investment and corporate banking), were also acquired. Thus, entering the banking market of Montenegro was motivated by the strategy of presence in the region that represented the emerging market and where banking services to a broader clientele were at a relatively low level.

Montenegro is perspective country and economy with potential particularly in tourism and energy sector. Few infrastructure project which is in ongoing phase are good base for additional atrractivness of Montenegro as destination for FDI. 

In order to achieve a broadly developed growth that will be followed by a significant development of employment, the economy needs an inflow of investments into middle and small businesses. Therefore, further improvement of the business environment  for  these companies and ensuring competitiveness is very important. A developed and stable domestic market and a sound macroeconomic policy can create a general incentive for FDI. 

The perspective of the Montenegrin economy largely depends on direct foreign investment (FDI). Tourism and the energy sector in particular are a clear potential for large projects such as coastal development and transformation of Montenegro into the center of regional electricity exchange. Tax discipline is important for maintaining growth. Further reforms are needed to expand the tax base and reduce total public spending. This should affect the public debt and open the space attractive to foreign foreign investments.

Country of origin/ headquarters Size of investment so far (approximately) Date of market entry Number of employees Regional presence if applicable (which country besides base country in the region – production or distribution)
France €14 million 2005 296 Montenegro, Serbia, Macedonia, Slovenia, Albania, Romania Bulgaria
Marija Tošković, Assistant to Executive Director

S&T

We have chosen Montenegro as our investment destination because of growing IT market opportunities.

Based on the analysis of "S & T Crna Gora ltd", we defined the key strength and weaknesses.

STRENGTH WEAKNESSES

1. Resources

• the location of the company that provides quick intervention at the location of most users,

• possession of the complete equipment needed to provide quality service to users

2. Human resources

• employees are highly educated staff with the necessary knowledge and experience for successful job realization

• certified staff for certain job categories

• the flexibility of resources within a company that can handle multiple jobs

3. Financial resources

• Financing from own resources for the implementation of most projects

4. Other

• good business relationships with key users

• Connection with the parent company and use of their resources

• positive reputation based on the quality of implemented projects in Montenegro

1. Resources

•smaller area of work space than necessary (necessary rooms that would be used as a warehouse)

2. Human resources

• highly specialized staff in certain segments resulting in the inability to adequately replace individuals on certain projects in the event of their disability

• there is no staff for certain types of jobs, which leads to the need for consortium mergers for some individual projects


We would advise our fellow investors to carefully study tax policy forecast before finalizing business plan.

We recommend to the Governments of the region to decrease business barriers by providing more transparent administrative procedures.

We see the region growing 5% annually.

Country of origin/ headquarters Size of investment so far (approximately) Date of market entry Number of employees Regional presence if applicable (which country besides base country in the region – production or distribution)
Austria €25000 2002 15 Albania, Macedonia, Serbia
Nataša Vujović, Associate, Financial department

EBRD

EBRD is one of the largest institutional investors in the Western Balkans 6. In Montenegro we focus on enhancing the competitiveness of the private sector and promoting green economy transition, including through supporting sustainable practices in tourism and property sectors and promoting sustainable energy.

In Montenegro EBRD also works on improving connectivity and regional integration by expanding cross-border transport and energy links.

There are at least seven attractive investment features of the Western Balkan region that, in our view, are worth emphasising. They are: 1) prospective EU membership; 2) price stability; 3) strategic location; 4) diverse economies; 5) favourable taxes 6) low labour costs combined with a relatively educated population and 7) prospects regarding the regional integration.

The experience so far has been very positive. The EBRD has had an important presence in Montenegro with strong project implementation capacity and significant dedicated technical assistance for project preparation and monitoring. As a result Montenegro is the country with the largest EBRD investment per capita.

Since the start of its activities in Montenegro EBRD has signed some 60 different projects with a cumulative investment volume of near €575 million for total investments of over €1 billion. Nearly half of these investments took place in the energy sector, a quarter in infrastructure, some 15% in the financial sector and little over 10% in the private sector, mainly in general industry and agribusiness sectors. Through our Advice for Small Businesses programme we supported more than 580 small and medium enterprises.

EBRD sees scope for further improvement of business environment, by for instance tackling the grey economy and strengthening the rule of law and governance. Montenegro’s limited fiscal headroom is another challenge, but the recently adopted Fiscal Strategy is a move in the right direction.

Countries in the Western Balkans - all aspire to membership of the European Union, but they face a major convergence challenge in terms of living standards. GDP per capita in the Western Balkans is roughly half that of the 11 central and Eastern European EU countries (EU-11), one-third that of Southern EU members and a mere one-quarter of the richest EU members in Western Europe. To close this prosperity gap the countries in the Western Balkans need to become even more competitive, developing the appropriate factors and institutions needed for high levels of long-term productivity.

This means for instance that the authorities in the region should seek ways to make more efficient use of talent, further develop professional management and business sophistication as well as transport infrastructure which according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report (GCR) are among the main competitiveness problems in the region. The World Bank’s Doing Business Report confirms the notable progress all countries made in ease of starting a business, registering property and trading across borders, but highlights the need to facilitate the issuance of construction permits, access to electricity and payment of taxes, despite recent improvements in some cases. The World Bank’s Governance Indicators suggest there is scope to further reduce corruption and strengthen the rule of law.

According to the most recent round of the EBRD-World Bank Business Environment and Enterprise Performance Survey (BEEPS), one problem stands out as particularly onerous – unfair competition from the informal sector. One in four firms see this as a major or a very severe obstacle.

The speed of catch-up in the coming years will depend on how quickly countries can tackle some of the above mentioned problems that are well identified and hold back the region’s private sector and prevent it from developing its full potential. Countries in the region should learn from the experience of others, including former socialist countries now in the European Union that faced the same problems, and take and adapt their best practices. 

Attractiveness of the region as an investment destination in the next five years should come from further increase in regional cooperation and EU approximation. Both processes in the past decade had a positive impact on overall economic activity in the Western Balkans. Regional cooperation has emerged as a conscious choice of the region itself and has brought various practical benefits including enhanced trade and competitiveness, and a more attractive investment destination.

Removing barriers to the movement of goods - which is part of this process – will allow investors to consider the region as one market. This will greatly enhance its attractiveness for investments.



Country of origin/ headquarters Size of investment so far (approximately) Date of market entry Number of employees Regional presence if applicable (which country besides base country in the region – production or distribution)
Multilateral, HQ based in London €550 million (cumulative since market entry) Early 2000 2500 (Total EBRD) EBRD has a resident office in each of the Western Balkan countries.
Jaap Sprey, Head of Montenegro Office

Adriatic Marinas Porto Montenegro

We have chosen Montenegro as our investment destination due to the fact that Montenegrin market is the most prosperous for development in the Mediterranean, proximity to EU and greatest economy growth potential.

Overall climate allowed project to be fastest growing project in the Mediterranean. When it comes to strength it is definitely fact that this destination has not been explored by European and global tourists. Weakness is that significant part of the population perceive current stage of destination development as a late stage, whereas Montenegro has so much potential and it is still in the early stage.

Although the investors face specific challenges it is a fact that lot of renowned international companies did invest in this region. Future investors must be aware and take advantage of the fact that countries in the region are not yet EU member states, but have already adopted some EU standards when it comes to trade.

We would recommend to the Government to further improve rule of law and eliminate complicated and lengthy procedures, and business barriers in public administration and to decrease tax rates.

As a market with a lot of potential, this region will be a more attractive destination for foreign investors in five years. Five years is enough time to solve the problems that stand in the way of faster and easier development of foreign investments, not only in Montenegro, but in the whole region.

Country of origin/ headquarters Size of investment so far (approximately) Date of market entry Number of employees Regional presence if applicable (which country besides base country in the region – production or distribution)
Montenegro €450 million 2007 361 NA
Sava Đurović, Head of legal department

Partners

Ebrd

Strategic partner

Karanovic Nikolic

Content partner

Confida

Content partner

I&F McCann

Communications partner