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15.01.2008

BA-CA: closer economic integration in the heart of Europe

  • Strong economic links between Germany, Italy, Austria and CEE
  • Austria: Europe's successful gateway to the new growth markets
  • New BA-CA publication presents Austria's strong profile as a business location

European integration to create a single market is making tangible progress. The economic links between Germany, Italy and Austria have strengthened significantly. Foreign trade between the three markets has increased to an annual volume of almost EUR 200 billion. "Direct investments between Germany, Italy and Austria exceed EUR 100 billion", says Vittorio Ogliengo, Head of UniCredit Group's Corporate Division. For each of the three countries, the other two countries taken together are its most important trading partner. What these countries have in common are their strong trade links and the fact that their economic relations with CEE countries are intensifying. Germany, Italy and Austria account for almost 60 per cent of imports of the ten new EU member states from the EU-15 countries. Of the CEE countries' total exports to the EU-15 region, two-thirds go to Germany, Italy and Austria. "As trade relations are intensifying, customers' requirements are changing. UniCredit Group is well positioned to meet their needs with its presence in the three core markets and its unrivalled network in Central and Eastern Europe", says Vittorio Ogliengo.

Germany, Italy and Austria are the largest investors in Central and Eastern Europe, with total investments of about EUR 76 billion. This means that over 30 per cent of foreign capital comes from investors based in markets in the heart of Europe. Italy, Germany and Austria are the core markets of UniCredit Group. "The Group's excellent positioning in the strongly interlinked markets enables us, together with our internationally active corporate customers, to use the business potential arising from progressive integration in the region", says Vittorio Ogliengo. 

Austria: Europe's gateway to the new EU members
Among the three countries, Austria has been particularly successful in using the opportunities resulting from European integration and the opening of the East. Austria has found and strengthened its role in the "New Europe". Its exports have quadrupled over the past twenty years. Austria's foreign trade is being driven by merchandise exports to the new EU member countries in Central and Eastern Europe. "Exports to the CEE region have increased tenfold since the opening of the East", says Regina Prehofer, Management Board member of Bank Austria Creditanstalt (BA-CA) with responsibility for corporate banking. Austria has become one of the most prosperous economies in the world. The Austrian economy has performed very strongly in the past two years, with real growth of more than three per cent. "One in ten euros invested by foreign companies in Central and Eastern Europe comes from Austria", says Regina Prehofer, adding that "with a per capita GDP of about EUR 32,000, Austria is the market with the fourth-highest purchasing power in the European Union."

BA-CA brochure presenting Austria as a business location
A number of international companies have chosen Austria as a base for their activities in Central and Eastern Europe. More than 300 companies have established regional headquarters using the manifold advantages offered by Austria as a modern and forward-looking business location. Benefiting from its location in the heart of Europe, Austria has developed into an effective hub linking Western Europe's established industrial countries with the dynamic growth markets in the East. The new brochure prepared by BA-CA's economists highlights Austria's advantages as a business location as well as its strengths and future challenges. Responding to the strong interest shown by many foreign companies in Austria as a business location, Bank Austria Creditanstalt has prepared the brochure to provide investors with relevant information. "Our new report on Austria goes far beyond an empirical analysis. It also offers Austrian and foreign investors a useful overview of the legal environment, tax regulations and financial assistance schemes, together with compact information on how to benefit from investment incentives", says Regina Prehofer.
BA-CA's economists have compared various economic indicators of all EU countries, including their attractiveness as a business location, performance capabilities and growth potential. The comparison shows that Austria ranks fifth in the European Union, behind Denmark, Luxembourg, Ireland and the Netherlands. "Austria has been working hard to achieve a strong position and it has created a strong base for excellent economic performance in the future", says BA-CA economist Stefan Bruckbauer.

Successful in Europe
With an economic performance exceeding the EU average by almost 30 per cent, Austria is among the most prosperous countries in Europe and one of the fastest-growing economies in the euro area. Growth achieved in past years has also had a favourable impact on the labour market, with employment increasing by about 1 per cent annually. The unemployment rate, averaging 4.3 per cent for 2007, is the fourth-lowest figure in the euro area. Austria has taken significant advantage of the historical opportunity presented by the opening of the East. "For Austria as one of the wealthiest countries in Europe, the time of imitation is over. It is only through innovation that we can maintain and further expand our top position", says Stefan Bruckbauer. To remain a successful player in global competition, Austria will need to focus on upgrading technology in the business sector and enhancing the qualifications of human resources.

UniCredit – Corporate Banking
Corporate banking business in the Austrian, German and Italian markets as well as the Global Busines Line Leasig and Global Financial Services are bundled in UniCredit - Corporate Banking, the Corporate Division of the UniCredit Group. The Corporate Division has generated €3,857 million in revenues and €2,597 million in operating profit in the first nine months of 2007. This represents respectively 20.8% and 27.8% of the UniCredit Group's consolidated revenues and operating profit. UniCredit - Corporate Banking is an European benchmark in profitability.

Today, UniCredit - Corporate Banking can offer proximity in all three core regions Germany, Italy and Austria and a large international network to its three main client groups - i.e. Large Corporates with a turnover of over €250 million, Corporates with a turnover of between €15 million and €250 million, SMEs with a turnover of between €3 million and 15 million.

UniCredit Group is number 2 in Europe in terms of market capitalisation and is one of the largest corporate banks among the European financial markets: number 4 in Germany with approx. 5% market share, number 1 in Austrian's domestic market with approx. 20% market share, number 2 in Italy with approx. 12% market share and number 1 in CEE, far ahead of our competitors, with a network of independent banks in 20 different countries. In the leasing business, UniCredit Leasing is number 1 in Europe in terms of new business. UniCredit Corporate Banking is among the top 3 in European transaction banking und can rely on a groupwide network with more than 90 branches and representative offices all around the world.

Enquiries: Bank Austria Creditanstalt Communications Austria
Martin Halama, tel. +43 (0) 50505 52371
e-mail: Martin.Halama@ba-ca.com
Alexander Tröbinger, tel. +43 (0) 50505 52809
e-mail: Alexander.Troebinger@ba-ca.com