INFORMATION technologies and the steel and automotive industries remain the most important sectors in which US companies have invested in Slovakia. The impacts of the global economic crisis have not bypassed these companies but they view them as new challenges to face.
“We have gone through hard times but we have been able to act flexibly,” Ľubomíra Šoltésová, media relations manager for U. S. Steel Košice (USSK), told The Slovak Spectator, adding that the global crisis has seriously impacted on steelmaking as well as its customers. “We have adjusted our production to the current needs of our customers. To save costs we have limited cooperation with external suppliers and we implemented a four-day workweek for a couple of months.”
For Microsoft Slovakia, there are three key objectives during the current downturn when customers have been switching from large, complex and long-term projects to optimizing internal processes and making their operations more efficient.
“We consider customer satisfaction to be a vital factor in our continued growth," Peter Čerešník, director general of Microsoft Slovakia told The Slovak Spectator. “We also are focusing on extending the market shares of individual products. Furthermore, we cannot forget that we are a global corporation, which has its own goals and which must also fulfil expectations of its shareholders. We are looking therefore to maximize our revenues.”
Dell in Slovakia has seen a reduction in spending by its large corporate customers – no exception to what the company has seen abroad, Mike Smyth, general manager of Dell’s European Business Center in Bratislava told The Slovak Spectator, seeing also a great opportunity for Dell to focus on cost reduction.
When asked about current trends, AT&T did not see any significant change in the market in which it operates through the end of the second quarter.
“Layoffs across all industries have an impact on our business customers,” said Niall Hickey, the executive director of corporate communications at AT&T EMEA. “To see growth from those customers, we need to see improvements in employment, business capital spending, and business formations.”
US investors in Slovakia see the investment environment as stable with advantages stemming from the country’s EU membership and the eurozone as well as its tax system and a qualified and skilled labour force.
“Despite the crisis and current challenges, we continue to see a good business environment here,” said Smyth of Dell. “The euro, Schengen and geographical proximity to the rest of the EU make it easy to come and work here.”
But Čerešník of Microsoft Slovakia believes that increasing labour costs and fading flexibility in the investment environment might distract potential investors.
AT&T has found Slovakia to be an ideal location. The local economic environment welcomes internal investment which Hickey says has allowed the company to continue its regional growth and to create new opportunities for people wanting to work within a global organisation.
The future plans of the companies surveyed by The Slovak Spectator remain ambitious.
“Our operations in Slovakia form a key part of our global business and we are continuing to invest and support our business here by providing high-quality and rewarding jobs for local people,” said Hickey.
Since USSK has invested more than $700 million into its steelworks in Košice, it wants to take advantage of this investment in the future, said Šoltésová.
The vision of Microsoft Slovakia is to enable people in Slovakia to fully develop their potentials via technology, and Dell in Slovakia will continue to build its presence as an international business centre.
Slovak arms of US companies are also bringing the concept of corporate responsibility from their parent companies to Slovakia. They have been getting involved in various community projects as well as developing their own specific activities in the areas of education, health care, social care and culture.
28. Sep 2009 at 0:00 | Jana Liptáková