The Slovenia Times

Business Says Pahor's Germany Visit Important for Trade


Pahor was accompanied on his visit on Tuesday and Wednesday by a delegation of executives, including Franjo Bobinac of household appliance maker Gorenje, Iztok Seljak of industrial conglomerate Hidria and Janez Gradišek of car parts maker Cimos, who met representatives of car industry giants Daimler, Mahle and BMW.

According to Mihelič, Pahor's visit opened the door to meet and establish valuable contacts with the top managers of the three companies.

The head of the investment and tourism promotion agency is also satisfied with the meeting with almost the entire management board of BMW. "The exchange of opinions and visions...enabled a first contact, on which Slovenian companies can build [cooperation]."

Mihelič warned that car parts maker Cimos, which is undergoing restructuring after being on the verge of bankruptcy, is the key for cooperation of Slovenian companies with BMW and in turn also for Cimos's survival. "They helped them in the first phase, but orders for the next year have not yet been confirmed," he said in reference to BMW.

Time was of the essence in reaching a deal, Cimos boss Janez Gradišek suggested, arguing that large car makers could not afford any risks in the supply chain.

Mihelič added that Cimos was an important link in trade with Germany being one of the rare direct suppliers to BMW, while other Slovenian companies deliver to Mahle and are actually a third link in the chain. "This is why this visit is important for this partnership to continue to be built on."

President of BMW Group Purchasing Division Klaus Dräger noted on Wednesday as he received Pahor and Slovenian business executives that BMW last year purchased almost EUR 90m in goods from a total of 14 Slovenian suppliers.

"EUR 30m of that was purchased from Cimos. This numbers say it all," said Gradišek, adding that "we have know-how and products for them with which we can follow the trend of reduced vehicle weight and the carbon footprint".

Hidria also hopes that Pahor's visit will result in new deals. CEO Iztok Seljak has told the STA that the personal contact with Daimler and BMW managers was precious, as Hidria was able to present its latest innovations.

This includes the new diesel cold-start system that brings a 30% cut in emissions. "We immediately received a lot of attention and agreed on concrete presentations in the coming weeks," said Seljak, who believes that the doors at Daimler and BMW had been opened for Hidria.

Germany is very important for Hidria, which is focused on premium brands such as Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Porsche, he said, announcing improvements in technology and innovative solutions for electric motors for hybrid and electric cars.

Gorenje chairman Franjo Bobinac is also satisfied with the results of Pahor's visit to Stuttgart and Munich. "Germany is by far the most important and largest foreign market for the Gorenje group, where we sell around EUR 130m in products annually," he told the STA.

Mihelič meanwhile also responded to Pahor's remark that the hosts in Baden-Württemberg had noted that Slovenia was not "very visible", suggesting that the country still had potential in tourism promotion in Germany.

He said that a TV campaign financed with EU funds was carried out in Germany this year, which he hopes will boost Slovenia's image there. "I would like to see Germans enter ownership in tourism companies. I would also want to see direct investment in tourism and in other sectors."


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