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Investors confidence

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

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

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

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

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

Partners

Ebrd

Strategic partner

Karanovic Nikolic

Content partner

Confida

Content partner

I&F McCann

Communications partner