COMMERCIAL DIPLOMACY: French Business Offensive in Croatia

Finance Minister Slavko Linic (SDP) and Economy Minister Ivan Vrdoljak (HNS) met last week with Charles Paradis, President of the Croatian-French Business Council and CEO Bouyges Construction Concessions.  Paradis led the business delegation from the French business association MEDEF International, accompanied by representatives from 20 French companies.  The delegation visited Croatia several days after the arrival of the new French Ambassador to Croatia, Ms. Michele Boccoz, who helped organise the visit together with the French embassy’s trade office.

Paradis stated that Bouygues was interested in participating in infrastructure and EU funded projects in Croatia, including the construction of the Peljesac Bridge, but only if it is tendered as a complete project and not broken into separate projects.  Bouygues entered the Croatian market in 1995, as the majority owner and operator of the motorway concession company Bina Istra.  In 2006, Bouygues purchased 23% shares of the French international corporation, the Alstom Group.  Alstom Croatia operates in Karlovac, manufacturing aircraft and vehicular motors and turbines.  Alstom purchased the Karlovac Company in 2001 from ABB, who acquired the company in liquidation that was an integral part of the Yugoslav manufacturing giant Jugoturbina.  The company employs over 800 employees and was awarded the best large company in Croatia (2010) by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK).

Bouygues is also the leading company in the consortium Zagreb Airport International Company that has been awarded a 30-year concession for the management the Zagreb airport and the construction of a new airport terminal, valued at over €300 million.  Other concession partners include the Aerports de Paris, Istanbul airport operator TAV, Viadukt, Croatia Osiguranje and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).  Paradis announced plans to take over the management of the existing airport in April and expected construction of the new terminal to begin in the autumn.

The MEDEF delegation included the following companies: Petit Jean (energy transmission and telecommunications), Alstom (power generation systems and services, rail transportation), BNP Paribas (banking), Colas (construction), EDF (energy), Egis (transport, water, environment), Eutelsat, Gide Loyrette Nouel (law firm), Lazard Feres (banking), Thales (defence, aerospace) and Vinci (construction, civil engineering)…

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