The Wind is the third Renault model assembled by the Novo mesto car plant, following Twingo and Clio. Photo: Revoz archive

Biggest foreign investors in Slovenia

Manufacturing: BSH Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte, Brigl&Bergmeister, Carthago, Danfoss, E.G.O. Elektro Geräte, Ecolab, Geberit, GKN Italia, Goodyear Dunlop Tires Europe

Financial Services: Hypo-Alpe-Adria Bank, KBC, Raiffeisen Bank, Intesa SanPaolo, Societe Generale, UniCredit Bank

Retail: Aldi Süd, E. Leclerc, Eurospin Italia, Lidl Internacional. MOL, Ömv, Rutar, Spar

Other Services: AC Nielsen, Debitel, Deloitte, DHL, Ernst & Young, GfK, Grishaber Logistik, KPMG, IBM

The first strategic partnerships among domestic and foreign companies can be traced back to the 1970s (Bayer, Semperit, Naue). The first substantial FDI inflows at the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s were linked to the decision of foreign partners to invest in the equity of their Slovenian partners working under a foreign licence or on the basis of a contract (Renault, Bosch, Siemens, Henkel, ÖMV).

The largest recent FDI inflows are the post-privatisation takeovers (Goodyear) or classic takeovers (Lek-Novartis, Simobil-Mobilkom, SKB-Societe Generale, NLB-KBC etc).

Until the late 1990s Slovenia retained several barriers to foreign investment. Liberalization laws enacted in 1999 lowered the threshold of foreign direct investment from 50% to 10%. This allowed more foreign investors to avert the custody account regime.

A big portion of the economy remains in state hands and foreign direct investment (FDI) in Slovenia is one of the lowest in the EU per capita. Taxes are relatively high, the labor market is seen by business interests as being inflexible, and industries are losing sales to China, India, and elsewhere. Unemployment used to be relatively low, but it rose to 5.5% in 2009 and to 8,4% in 2010.

Some reasons why foreign investors are attracted to Slovenia

  • Political and economic stability;
  • Membership of important bodies such as – IMF,  EU from May 2004, OECD from June 2010;
  • Location, strong commercial ties with Western Europe and the Balkan States;
  • A well developed transport infrastructure both on dry land and through the sea port at Koper;
  • A proficient and skilled labor force. Some 16% of the Slovenian labor force has had an academic education. 62% of the population has had at least a high school education;
  • The level of English and German is high;
  • Accommodating tax regulations for companies - as at 2008, corporation tax is 28%;
  • The aggregate sum of foreign residents' investments at the end of 2006 totaled some EURO 6.77 billion;
  • The foreign direct investment in Slovenia was mainly in the finance and services sector-20%, in the chemicals sector-16% and in the retail sector-14%.