Slovenia is working towards becoming more attractive to foreign investors, and those already in the country claim that it certainly offers many opportunities. Slovenia Business Bridge investment and development conference in Ljubljana presented a number of successful investment projects in the country.
The investors who participated in the event organised by the American Chamber of Commerce in Slovenia (AmCham Slovenia) are satisfied with the Slovenian companies they purchased. "I'm very happy about our investment, it's doubled," said Michal Kedzia from the Polish Enterprise Investors Fund, which owns Intersport. He added they are also looking at other potential acquisitions both in Slovenia and in the region.
Gregory Ingram from the German investment management company KGAL - which together with Zavarovalnica Triglav insurer founded Trigal in Slovenia - praised the partners here as trustworthy and reliable.
“We are very pleased with the business in Slovenia," Ingram said.
Andrea Moneta from the Apollo Fund, which bought Nova KBM in 2015 and Abanka this year is also satisfied with the investments. "It was a lot of work, but the result is very good,” he said, adding that Nova KBM is today a financially sound institution and in good shape for the next step. Apollo is also considering investing in other industries in Slovenia.
Domestic investors are also active. Matjaz Filipič from the Ljubljana-based KF Finance said that medium-sized Slovenian companies seem to be viewed as too small and micro for foreign investors. "We notice that many companies are looking investors, but they are too small and not on the foreign investors radar. This is where we see an opportunity for us,” he said.
Investors looking for opportunities in Slovenia are assisted by Spirit Slovenia. Its director Ajda Cuderman said the value of foreign direct investment in Slovenia has almost doubled in recent years, to EUR 15.1 billion last year.
Spirti Slovenia is especially proud of two investments made in recent years, she said: the Japanese robot factory Yaskawa and the factory of the car manufacturer Magna Steyr. "Existing investors see many opportunities to grow their business in our country,” she added.
Cuderman praised the government, which has been working hard over the last few years on individual investor assistance. She added that Slovenia’s biggest advantage is the educated and skilled workforce.
Kedzia said, however, that taxation of wages is too high and therefore an obstacle to attracting more skilled labour. "Taxing work is an obstacle that prevents (companies) from attracting good staff."
Finance Minister Andrej Bertoncelj agreed the taxation of work in Slovenia is too high. He affirmed that Slovenian government continues to work on further improving business environment in the country, which also includes addressing fiscal issues, with changes to those to be implemented in 2020.
This year the government has already reduced the taxation of holiday pay, so that employees will receive the gross amount in full, Bertoncelj said. More changes in personal income tax will follow, the minister added, but the corporate tax rate will remain at 19%.
"For any investor, domestic or foreign, a stable business environment is important," Bertoncelj emphasized, adding this is all the more important for small export-oriented economies such as Slovenia.
Bertoncelj noted further that investors are paying a lot of attention to the macroeconomic indicators of the countries they invest in, and reminded that Slovenian public finances have been in surplus since 2017; that Slovenia’s debt reduction is fastest amongst EU countries since 2015; and that economic growth has been above the EU average and the euro area since 2013. The noticeable progress has not been overlooked by the world's leading credit rating agencies, he added.
According to Bertonclj, the government will continue to work on the country’s positive macroeconomic picture. Amongst others, it plans a budget surplus of 1% of GDP over the next three years, reducing debt to 60% of GDP and structural balancing of public finances.