Let­ter from the edi­tor

Top 100 See - - Contents -

Strong growth po­ten­tial, low pro­duc­tion costs, ob­so­lete infrastructure and wide­spread cor­rup­tion – these phrases ap­pear re­peat­edly on the pages of our SEE TOP 100 pub­li­ca­tion over the past ten years to de­scribe a re­gion that busi­nesses find ex­cit­ing and yet of­ten frus­trat­ing. When SeeNews first pub­lished its rank­ing of the top com­pa­nies in South­east Europe in 2008 the re­gion was en­joy­ing ro­bust growth and for­eign in­vestors were rush­ing to grab a slice of its lu­cra­tive mar­kets. “Very di­verse and very dy­namic with a strong up­ward trend...Big room for growth and con­sol­i­da­tion...lur­ing for­eign in­vestors with high yields, a skilled labour force, flex­i­ble labour pol­icy and low pro­duc­tion costs...a new fron­tier for in­vest­ment within Europe,” we said back then. “While there are still stum­bling blocks in these mar­kets in terms of infrastructure and gov­er­nance is­sues, leg­isla­tive frame­work and the level of po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity, South­east Europe de­serves se­ri­ous at­ten­tion as a re­gion with con­sid­er­able po­ten­tial,” we con­cluded at the time. Ten years later and fol­low­ing a painful eco­nomic down­turn which wiped out prof­its and much of the eu­pho­ria, eco­nomic growth in South­east Europe is once again pick­ing up, busi­nesses are reap­ing the ben­e­fits of ris­ing con­sump­tion, and for­eign in­vestors are re­turn­ing - de­spite the same old prob­lems. All these years, in our analy­ses, rank­ings, in­ter­views and fea­ture sto­ries, we have been try­ing to an­swer the ques­tion what is it that makes a com­pany in our re­gion suc­cess­ful. The an­swers var­ied through the years – large-scale in­vest­ments in pro­duc­tion, fis­cal pru­dence, en­ergy ef­fi­ciency and sus­tain­abil­ity have been com­ing into sharper fo­cus at dif­fer­ent points in time. Look­ing at the top per­form­ers to­day, we can point to three essen­tial fea­tures of the pro­file of a suc­cess­ful SEE-based com­pany: ac­cess to big for­eign mar­kets - of­ten the re­sult of for­eign own­er­ship, in­te­gra­tion of the full range of busi­ness-spe­cific ac­tiv­i­ties, and will­ing­ness to em­brace in­no­va­tions. South­east Europe's top com­pany in terms of to­tal rev­enue this year, car maker Au­to­mo­bile Da­cia, has them all. We pick up this thread from our flag­ship rank­ing of the big­gest non-fi­nan­cial com­pa­nies in the re­gion and take it through the list of the lead­ing banks and in­sur­ers, in­ter­views with the chart top­pers and analy­ses of the most prof­itable in­dus­tries, weav­ing dif­fer­ent suc­cess sto­ries into the pic­ture of facts and figures. For those of you who want the brief tour, Vazil Hu­dak, vice-pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean In­vest­ment Bank, the big­gest in­ter­na­tional lender to the re­gion, sums it up: “The coun­tries in the re­gion are small, so they need to broaden their mar­ket, and that means they need to be able to work across bor­ders […] To be com­pet­i­tive you need to in­vest in R&D and tech­nol­ogy.”

Nevena Krasteva


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