Slovak Google? Everything is possible


State Agency is negotiating with dozens of investors; interest is growing year on year. "Maybe if the situation in the euro zone was good, we might be registering twice as many projects. We can feel the crisis in investors’ decision-making, "says Šimončič.


- What is the mood among investors after the elections?

Decision making process of investors takes a long time, but we have not seen any slowdown. The fact that Slovakia is seen as a long term stable country in all directions is also helping to this. Just to clarify – we always see just a sample of investors since not all come through our agency.


- With how many investors are you negotiating right now?

We are working on about 80 to 90 projects that together could create about 20-thousand new jobs, there are plans to invest 2.5 to 3 billion euros. We register definitely more ongoing projects than last year or two years ago.


- The credit crunch is not mirrored in numbers?

For me it is difficult to assess that. Maybe if the situation in the euro zone was good, we might be registering twice as many projects. We can feel the crisis in investors’ decision-making.  Until they give their verdict on if and where they will invest, it takes considerably longer.


- Did not you personally help to this change? You are a former businessman from Microsoft ...

We are trying to take care of America thoroughly since it is the largest world economy and in many cases with the best technologies. Slovakiais attractive to them by the fact that we are in the middle of Europe, we have high labor productivity and euro, which is all very important to Americans.


- Do Americans want to invest only to manufacturing in Slovakia?

They want to invest also to manufacturing, but we see strong interest in communications technology. It is a sector where our economy needs significant strengthening and it is where is the highest value added. New data and service centers might be established here.


- And what is your take on repeated support for Samsung? They also refer to the fact that they want to invest in research and development and are asking for further tax relief in the volume of 28 million euros.

Slovakiais interesting when we welcome technologies that we did not have previously. Even better when we receive technologies that are not yet in Europe, and we may gain significant competitive advantage. TV market is extremely competitive, now all the companies in this business are having difficult times. Those who do not invest in new technology are out of luck. And Samsung wants to invest in smart TV, which is the latest technology.


- Would not this be a dangerous precedent - at the time when they came to Slovakia and received first investment aid, they promised research.

There was a request for relief. You know, it is often perceived incorrectly. I want to point out that this is not about whether Samsung intends to remain here or not. It's about the fact that if they lose competitiveness, its sales will fall and if it won´t be selling ... If this project would not happen, nothing new is created. If the project should exist, it must be successful, and then the company could write off some of the breaks along the way and to pay levies, employees’ taxes. Investment can bring an interesting economic value, is the Government that will have to consider that.


- You are therefore inclined for the project to be supported?

This is really up to the Government's decision. Slovak Agency for Investment and Trade Development decides whether the project has the potential to meet the requirements of the Act. I'm just talking about the factors which are economically important for Slovakia to grow, and this is one of those projects.


- Many Slovak companies voice their discontent that they are not supported, but investors are supported constantly.

A healthy balance must be created and the law applies to everyone. Often, even when a company looks like it is Slovak, there is foreign capital involved. Capital knows no boundaries. Companies that we have here for continued growth they need support. Companies that are truly Slovak are extremely important for us, because only the level of loyalty is much higher for them than for foreign entities. We are going to make a big campaign, where we want to reach thousands of Slovak companies and offer our services to them. If you have interesting investment projects, we help them with them. I believe that there will be more our companies which will receive the opportunity for support.


- How many companies that want your help do you register so far?

Companies, which have purely Slovak capital? We have approximately ten of them. But this project hasn´t yet started, we are getting ready for it, so I hope this number will increase. Also regions need assistance with high unemployment rate as well as companies that have potential to penetrate global markets.


- You have already helped Slovak technology companies…

Yes. They went to the U.S. Silicon Valley to learn how to build such a company and then should find a good use for it at home. This is a particularly interesting model, which also creates the highest value-added in the economy. When you create some intellectual idea, it gets commercial and gets a license to sell in the world; it's the best for the country. Actually, it would be sufficient to create one Google and one Microsoft...


- Can you see this real?

We have skilled people with great ideas. There certainly is a chance for success.



Source: Hospodárske noviny