Business and Investment in Austria:
Fewer revaluations and hotel revenues cause S-Immo profits to fall
If Immofinanz gets more than 50 percent of the outstanding S-Immo shares, CEO Ettenauer wants to call a general meeting immediately.
Vienna – A lower property valuation result and a lack of hotel revenues depressed the results of S Immo last year. The operating Ebitda only decreased from 87.0 to 71.1 million euros, but the operating result (Ebit) from 271.4 to 101.0 million euros, because the valuation result only amounted to 39.1 million after 192.7 million euros. With an annual profit of 56.9 (213.3) million euros, the company also intends to pay a dividend for 2020, but less than for the previous year.
Commenting on Immofinanz AG’s takeover bid for S Immo AG, new S Immo CEO Bruno Ettenauer said Thursday morning that the annual general meeting, originally scheduled for April 30, had been postponed to give shareholders more time to consider the offer. “We are not against the offer, but we want a settlement in line with market and usance, one thing at a time,” Ettenauer said in an online call.
Only four, five days to think about it is too little, he said. This calculation is based on the assumption that Immofinanz’s complete offer (due to non-prohibition by the Takeover Commission) will be available around 15 April and that the S-Immo board and supervisory board will then have ten days to comment on it.
Ready for a general meeting without delay
If Immofinanz receives more than 50 percent of the outstanding S-Immo shares, the company is prepared to hold a general meeting immediately, at which the existing voting rights restriction (of 15 percent) can also be discussed, the CEO stated. It is to be expected that the maximum voting right currently anchored in the articles of association will be eliminated if Immofinanz receives more than 50 percent of the S-Immo shares. However, it would be unfair to the shareholders if they were to vote on the maximum voting rights first, even though the takeover bid might not be successful afterwards.
Ettenauer said that in order to ensure that the S-Immo general meeting could take place without delay, the company was prepared to issue invitations approximately three weeks in advance, calculated from the expected last day of delivery of S-Immo shares to Immofinanz, so that the general meeting could then take place, for example, one week later.
Immofinanz last held 26.5 per cent of s Immo and is seeking all outstanding shares (excluding S Immo treasury stock), so the offer, details of which are still unknown, relates to 69.9 per cent of s Immo. Should the shareholder Aggregate of Austro-investor Günther Walcher with its most recent 10.79 percent become part of Immofinanz, the 50 percent threshold would probably be “significantly easier” to reach, according to Ettenauer.
Anti-hangover drink maker Kaahee has proper hangover
The beverage start-up Kaahee was hailed as a little Red Bull and brought prominent investors on board. Now investors are looking through their fingers.
The start-up Kaahee started out as a hangover killer, but now it is feeling a mighty hangover economically. The company, which wanted to conquer the markets with a shamanic drink made from the mountain cactus fig, has investors looking through its fingers. Yet the Viennese company had repeatedly caused a furore, at least in the media.
In the Pulse 4 show 2 Million in 2 Minutes, big names like Hans Peter Haselsteiner were won over as backers. The construction tycoon attracted attention with his statement that he believed Kaahee would have a success story similar to that of Red Bull.
Haselsteiner even did not shy away from parallels with Coca-Cola. The listing in large retail chains like Spar, the internationalisation as well as product innovations made the start-up the object of desire. The anti-hangover drink broke records in crowdfunding, which also allows small investments via platforms.
But then Corona put the brakes on expansion, as the company reported in its confidential management report to crowd investors on Monday. New listings had been delayed, market support in supermarkets was temporarily banned and the sales team was on short-time work, trade fairs were cancelled. Since there were also fewer or no parties and the catering trade was partially closed, these sales channels also partially dried up.
The good news from Kaahee: earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation were positive, “despite all the restrictions, the Covid 19 impact is bearable for us”.
There is a reason that investors are not happy at all. They raised 763,600 euros via crowdfunding loans that will not be serviced now or in the coming year. According to information sent to investors, “the conditions for interest payments and repayments are not met”. Kaahee refers to a subordination clause in the contracts, according to which the loans are only serviced if the equity is positive and payment would not lead to insolvency. Addendum: Currently, the equity is negative.
Now the company, which could not be reached on Wednesday, wants to improve its economic situation. After the consolidation, Kaahee is aiming for growth again thanks to new listings. Among other things, the start-up points to its inclusion in the Food Starter Programme of the German retail giant Edeka.
There are also high hopes for the expansion of the Urban division, where products are marketed by partners. In order to distribute trendy food and beverages, the platform Lieferei.at was bought out of bankruptcy. At the same time, low-yield products will be taken out of the programme, according to the management information.
Kaahee is thus looking forward to 2021 with confidence and a zest for action. Company CEO and founder Julian Juen to the starving investors: “We would like to express our sincere thanks for the support of all our investors and comrades-in-arms.”
Source Der Standard (Andreas Schnauder,)
Barrier to the sell out of Austrian companies
In order to protect key industries from hostile investors from third countries, the rules of the game are now tightened: From ten percent holding, it can be prohibited.
Vienna – The EU Commission now warns:
The member states may protect their critical infrastructure and technology companies from the “sell-off” in the face of the Corona crisis. This refers to direct investments from third countries such as China or the USA in companies that are active in areas such as health, food or energy supply. Worried companies from outside the EU single market could take advantage of weakened European companies, or so they fear.
The precautions against a sell-out are also in full swing in Austria. It remains to be seen how much bite the investment control will have. Because Austria apparently wants to adhere to the threshold of 25 percent in the areas of security and public order laid down in the 2011 Foreign Trade and Payments Act. An examination of the planned participation should not be initiated until the 25 percent limit was exceeded. This can be deduced from the Ministry of Economy, which is available.
Some want only Ten percent
Although the draft for the Investment Control Act is not yet available, because the coordination within the coalition parties has not yet been completed: a lowering of the relevant threshold for approval requirements to ten percent according to the German model is only intended “in the area of particularly sensitive infrastructures”.
The paper does not reveal which sectors of the economy are considered to be particularly sensitive. However, Economics Minister Margarete Schramböck (ÖVP) has already ventured to better protect “key industries”, specifically media, data processing and storage, artificial intelligence, robotics, food or drug security and “everything that has to do with research and development”.
Measured against the EU regulation FDI screening for investment control from the previous year, which will pass into national law in autumn, Austria seems rather defensive. The FDI regulation gives the member states a lot of leeway far beyond “threats to security and public order”: water supply, traffic, communication and associated data processing, freedom and plurality of the media, aerospace, defense, electoral or financial infrastructures and food security or land and property important for security of supply can be protected.
Against mailbox companies
By-pass structures such as mailbox companies based in the EU or Switzerland should be questioned, recommends the WU professor for public law, environmental law, public and urban governance, Verena Madner. Financial vehicles and syndicates often served as a gateway for third-country investors, so it should be actively examined and the threshold reduced. With Stefan Mayr (also WU), Madner has prepared a study on the subject of “Legal problems of foreign trade protection mechanisms for investment control”.
The Chamber of Labour, which commissioned this study in the previous year, insists on the broadest possible framework for investment control, which also includes services of general interest and critical infrastructure. The test density should be as high as possible and the threshold should be as low as possible. In particular, tax-saving constructions should be scrutinized as a legitimation for by-pass methods!
Toothless against Mexico
How toothless the foreign trade law currently used for investment control with its rigid 25 percent threshold was demonstrated not least when America Movil (Amov) joined Telekom Austria.
Amov did not acquire its stake in Telekom directly, but through a Dutch holding company and was therefore in a safe haven as an EU investor. Because according to the Foreign Trade and Payments Act, only 25 percent or more is checked, which facilitates the so-called “sneaking up”. If an investor buys 23 percent in a first step, there is currently no check – even if the investor controls the company defacto. If he purchases …say.. a further three percent in a second step, only the last three percent require approval!
The Ministry of Economy sees the new framework as being as flexible as possible. The “public order” also includes public services. In addition, an acquisition, or even the formation of a syndicate contract to achieve a dominant influence, can be void if the third-country investor does not submit an application for approval or purchases under incorrect conditions – at the latest when the contractual contract is concluded.
AK President Anderl wants a “boost in justice”.
Vienna. Austria is basically seen by the people as a fair country. Nevertheless, there are injustices, especially in terms of access to affordable housing, income and wealth distribution, the tax system, the division of paid and unpaid work, and coping with climate change.
This emerges from an Ifes survey that the Chamber of Labour presented on the occasion of its 100th birthday. “Austria needs a boost in justice,” said AK President Renate Anderl on Wednesday in a press conference.
On February 26, the law establishing the chambers of labour was passed. For the anniversary, the AK had 2000 people interviewed by telephone and online about the topic of justice. According to this, 41 percent feel that Austria is basically just, only 15 percent feel it is unjust. Access to future technologies, public transport, career opportunities and dealing with people with disabilities are generally seen as fair.
The fairness of the economy
46 percent of those surveyed find the wealth distribution in Austria to be unfair. 47 percent believe that the division of paid and unpaid work is not fair. Only 13 percent consider access to affordable living space to be fair. AK President Renate Anderl derived a need for action from this survey – in particular, she called for the introduction of wealth taxes. “If we stop being afraid, we will discuss concrete models for taxing large assets.”
Congratulations on the 100th birthday came from the Chamber of Commerce: The social partnership was an Austrian success story, together “we have already done a lot of good things for the Austrians,” said Chamber of Commerce President Harald Mahrer. And Secretary General Karlheinz Kopf praised the “good basis for discussion” with the employee side. (APA)
Source: (“Die Presse”, print edition, February 27, 2020)
Austria’s Chancellor: Italy’s debt could threaten eurozone
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on Monday warned Italy could put the entire eurozone at risk without tougher European Union rules for excessive debt.
Sanctions for debt-laden EU members “will prevent Italy, for example, ending up a second Greece thanks to irresponsible debt policies”, the centre-right leader told Italy’s La Stampa newspaper.
This is the only way “we can avoid Italy putting the entire eurozone at risk”, Kurz said, targeting Italy’s big-spending populist coalition government.
Italy’s public debt is currently around 2.3 trillion euros ($2.6 trillion), or 132 percent of Italy’s GDP – way above the 60 percent EU ceiling.
The ruling coalition of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and anti-immigrant League party has also increased the budget deficit since coming to power last June as it implements big-spending election promises, including tax cuts and generous income support.
League leader Matteo Salvini has expressed interest in joining the conservative European People’s Party (EPP) bloc in the European parliament, of which Kurz’s centre-right People’s Party (ÖVP) is also a member.
Kurz on Friday expressed scepticism over any cooperation between the EPP and parties further to the right in the European Parliament, including the League.
“We don’t want to hand over the EU to the extreme fringes on the left or right, we need instead a strong politics of the centre,” he told Austrian newspapers.
The League is hoping to make significant gains in the European parliament elections on May 26th.
Kurz has previously called for the renegotiation of the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty and tough action against countries with high debt and those letting illegal migrants transit ahead of the EU elections.
At home the ÖVP has been in coalition with the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) since elections in late 2017, but in recent weeks Kurz has come under increasing pressure to condemn the actions of some FPÖ members.
The “spread” – the different between yields on 10-year Italian government debt compared with those in Germany – was up from 253 on Friday to 260 points on Monday, which analysts said was partly because of the Kurz interview.
Source: The Local
New research for renewable energy storage
Austrian oil and gas prospecting firm RAG for Business and investment in Austria, has been working on new storage systems to keep renewable energy on tap in Upper Austria.
- Unique worldwide: the Underground Sun Conversion project
The highly encouraging results of the Underground Sun Storage research project (2013-2017) are the basis for the unique Underground Sun Conversion project, which is now under way.
- Geological history in fast motion: natural production of “renewable natural gas”
Over 1,000 metres below ground, where natural gas formed millions of years ago, “organic natural gas” can now be produced from hydrogen and carbon dioxide for the first time – using a microbiological, environmentally friendly process initiated specifically for this purpose by RAG and its project partners.
- Storing renewables
Renewable energy can be stored in underground gas reservoirs – renewable natural gas is an energy source for industry, heat generation and transport that can enhance security of supply.
- Outstanding potential
The aim of the research project is to carry out research into the principles for producing large quantities of renewable natural gas in the future, and storing it in environmentally friendly, naturally formed reservoirs. This will provide urgently needed flexibility for renewable energy sources.
Google finally maps missing Austria!
Google’s Street View cars started on Thursday taking images in Austria, the only EU country along with Germany to remain largely absent from the popular online service showing 360-degree pictures of places around the world.
Hopefully this will also have the effect of getting the outside world more interested in Austria as an investment possibility for business.
The project, launched in 2007, lets computer users view panoramic street scenes on Google Maps and take a virtual “walk” through cities.
The photos are processed in the United States, where details such as faces and registration plates are automatically blurred before being published on Google Maps.
Some countries have been reluctant to grant Google access because of worries linked to data collection.
In 2010, Google had begun to roll out its service in Austria and neighbouring Germany but was ordered to halt operations over alleged privacy breaches.
The company admitted that vehicles had accidentally recorded personal data from wireless networks.
Although Austria lifted its temporary ban a year later, Street View decided not return to the alpine nation — until now.
The fresh start was timed to coincide with Street View’s 10-year anniversary, Google said in a statement.
Cars equipped with special cameras will tour Vienna, Linz and Graz until November.
“The official launch of Street View in Austria is expected to happen in six to twelve months,” Google Austria spokesman Wolfgang Fasching-Kapfenberger told AFP.
Under Austrian law, Street View cars will only be allowed to capture photos but not videos.
The service still has a very low penetration rate in Germany, which has some of Europe’s strictest privacy laws due to the abuses under its Nazi and communist dictatorships.
As a special concession to privacy concerns, Germans can have their homes or businesses pixelated, as well as opt out of the service altogether.
Source: The Local – Google.
Glock firing on all cylinders
Austrian handgun giant Glock, a major supplier to police forces worldwide and whose weapons are also hugely popular for private use, saw sales soar 55 percent last year, a press report said Monday.
The privately owned company, which does not publish results, saw revenues rocket to 501.6 million euros ($555.7 million) from 322.2 million euros in 2014, Austrian weekly Wirtschaftsblatt reported.
Net profits for the firm, controlled by 87-year-old founder Gaston Glock, more than doubled to 96.7 million euros, the report said, citing company filings.
The company’s report said it is “very optimistic” for business in 2016, boosted by rising demand in its number one market the United States, Wirtschaftsblatt said.
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Demand is strong for models marketed at private individuals like the 9mm Glock 43, ideal according to the company for “your everyday concealed carry needs”, and the 42 for “shooters with smaller hands”.
Business and investment in Austria
Source : The local.
Reports suggest Apple Car will be built in Austria
Rumours that a highly anticipated electric car from Apple could be built in Austria have been strengthened following a report in a German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
a well-placed source inside the electronics giant suggested that lead product designer Steve Zadesky had been making regular trips to Austria in relation to the project.
If the project does in fact come to fruition it will be a great for Business and investment in Austria.
It was thought that Apple may be looking to partner with Austrian vehicle manufacturer Magna Steyr. It has produced more than a million vehicles for BMW and also produces the Mercedes G-Class at its plant in Graz.
The rumour that the Apple Car will be built in Austria by Magna Steyr is again circulating, following a recent report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
Further to the reports about an Austrian link, the newspaper claims that Apple has hired twenty “progressive thinking” young professionals who are currently working on “Project Titan” in a secret laboratory in the Berlin.
Quoting “informed sources,” they also reported that the car will not appear until 2019 at the earliest. It is alleged that it may not be self-driving, as has previously been reported.
Business and investment in Austria
Austrian banks caught up in Panama Papers leak!
Business and investment in Austria
Raiffeisen Internal AG.
Austrian banks have become entangled in one of the biggest ever data leaks exposing how the some of the world’s richest and most powerful public figures hide their wealth in secretive offshore bank accounts.
The Panama Papers investigation is a cross-border collaboration of journalists in 80 different countries who analysed 11.5 million records leaked from the offices of an international law firm based in Panama.
Around 500 banks or subsidiaries and 140 politicians and public figures were connected to offshore companies. this was found in the research carried out by The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
The Consortium spent over a year studying records leaked from the Panama-based law firm Mossak Fonseca.
Austrian banks Raiffeisen Zentralbank (RZB) and Hypo Vorarlberg were mentioned in the investigation as helping wealthy individuals move money to offshore accounts to avoid paying tax.
From 2002 Raiffeisen reportedly helped the current Ukrainian President Petro Poroschenko with tax avoidance, according to the magazine Falter that, along with the broadcaster ORF, took part in the investigative collaboration.
The bank is said to have dealt with a $115 million credit (€131 million) in an offshore account in the British Virgin Islands connected to Poroschnko’s confectionery empire Roshen.
The Ukrainian president is one of 12 current or former world leaders among the 140 politicians exposed in the report.
Hypo Vorarlberg, a member of the Hypo Alpe Adria company that had to be rescued by the Austrian government after failing to pay back loans of €19 billion, has also been connected to 20 offshore businesses.
Keeping money in offshore bank accounts is not illegal and both banks say they complied with all the necessary regulations.
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“RZB of course fulfilled the legal obligations,” Raiffeisen spokeswomen Ingrid Krenn-Ditz told the Kurier newspaper.
Hypo Vorarlberg also emphasised that laws are “rigorously” complied with to help “prevent money laundering.”
Source: The Local
Siemens wins Saudi trains bid
Saudi Arabia has ordered a new range of Austrian-built metro trains. With 3 different classes to make sure passengers know their place!
More Business and investment in Austria….Gold-coloured seats adorn the first class section of the trains, which is almost exclusively for men of a higher class and rank.
Then there is a “family class” which is for women if they are being accompanied by a man, a husband or a family member, as well as children.
And then after that there is a “worker class” in which mostly single men who do not have a significant status or class are allowed to travel.
The trains have been designed so that although it is technically possible to go from the first class to the family class, presumably so the men in first-class might speak with their wives or children, the section to the third class part of the carriage is closed, giving them no access to the rest of the train.
Unveiling the new trains which are being created by Siemens in Austria, the firm explained that this was to stop the men travelling from peering through and looking at the women on the other side. It can only be opened in an emergency such as a fire.
The first class seats are noticeably larger than all the others, as well as the gold cover while the family class and third class have silver and red coloured seats. But in the case of the third class section, there are only a few, with most of the carriage comprising standing room only.
The trains have been designed to drive themselves meaning the question of whether the driver is a man or woman would not ever occur. The plan is for the trains to travel through tunnels or over huge bridges all the way through the Saudi capital Riyadh, which at the moment despite its size has no metro network.
It is being designed so that there is no need for the trains to turn around, with the lines in circles so that the last station is also the first in the city of 6.5 million.
Source: The local
Future of transport………. 8 mins from Bratislava to Vienna!!
A transport system straight out of a science fiction film that would cut train rides between Vienna and Bratislava down to just eight minutes could soon be a reality.
A deal has been struck, between the company Hyperloop Transportation Technologies and Slovakia to introduce the 700 mph tube-like transport into their systems. The first testing stages are planned for 2020. This is a major boost for Business and investment in Austria.
The Hyperloop transport system works by using a semi-vacuum tube to send small passenger pods down at high speeds, an idea originally thought up by Elon Musk, an entrepreneur who heads up Tesla Motors and SpaceX.
The idea was deliberately left open for others to develop by Musk and several companies are working on turning the concept into a reality.
This deal is the first time a project using this technology has been proposed outside the US, where a few companies are already exploring the idea.
Source: The Local
Below are links to Austrian Business and trade associations that can help with all business enquiries and able to give advice for Business and investment in Austria.
The websites are in English, so no stress with translating to get the facts that you need for investment in Austria.