UniCredit opened the first facility specially designed to assist the expansion of enterprises from Italy and other countries into Bulgaria and the rest of the Balkan market. International center opened doors with a grand ceremony, which was attended by His Excellency Marco Conticelli, Ambassador of Italy, the Mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandakova, the CEO of UniCredit Federico Ghizzoni, the CEO of UniCredit Bulbank Levon Hampartzoumian, and Carlo Pesenti, CEO of Italcementi Group.
“For me it is a great honour and pleasure that UniCredit Bulbank can present such an exceptional and prestigious project that combines a modern looking and high-tech environment, aiming to offer its international clients services of a new generation. At the same time, the bank focuses its efforts on increasing its business with international clients”, commented Levon Hampartzoumian, who hosted the opening ceremony.
“The opening of the International Corporate Center clearly demonstrates that UniCredit has confidence in the future of Bulgaria, which is highly important in the current period of political and economic instability. The fact that now there will be a center dedicated exclusively to foreign investors is very good news”, said the Marco Conticelli, Ambassador of Italy, at the opening ceremony of the International Corporate Center. He wished UniCredit Bulbank to have many clients and many new Italian companies to start their business in Bulgaria from this business center of the bank.
“Sofia Municipality is one of the biggest investors and we, of course, welcome each new project implemented in our city. The building itself and the innovations which the business can find in it are a great benefit for Sofia, but the most important thing is the opportunity which UniCredit provides to the country in attracting foreign investors”, said the Mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandakova. She thanked UniCredit Bulbank for the projects they have jointly fulfilled so far for improvement of the urban environment.
“This international center is a symbol of the internationalization of UniCredit. This is a center for the clients themselves, a great innovation, a new way of making business. The opening of the International Corporate Center confirms that Bulgaria is an important country in which the group operates and where it supports the development of international business”, said Federico Ghizzoni, CEO of UniCredit.
“The opening of the International Corporate Center of UniCredit has a symbolic meaning because it is a “door” to the international economic cooperation and facilitates a fruitful exchange of competences and possibilities for financing of projects, which will be the backbone of the economic growth in the country. I am proud of the fact that this corporate center was built with one of the most innovative materials successfully manufactured by the so called i.lab, Italcementi’s R&D center”, said Carlo Pesenti, CEO of Italcementi Group.
The UniCredit International Center, inaugurated on 30 October, will provide support for UniCredit’s customers who are carrying out or researching business activities in the country. The center will function as a temporary office, equipped with space and facilities for companies to work in Bulgaria and facilitate their access to UniCredit’s global organization all over the countries where the Group is present.
To help companies establish their presence in Bulgaria, the center’s skilled UniCredit specialists can provide consulting, introductions to local officials, and legal and tax assistance. The center will also organize business-to-business networking opportunities, themed sector events and joint-marketing initiatives.
The UniCredit International Centre is part of the project to support the internationalisation of Italian companies, which represents a concrete commitment made two years ago by the bank to help to increase growth.
The initiative takes advantage of UniCredit’s unique international network spread across 50 countries, 17 of which have a commercial bank presence. In Bulgaria, the Group is present through UniCredit Bulbank.
The Balkans in general and Bulgaria in particular represent an area that is naturally of interest to Italian business people, above all for SMEs, thanks to their geographical location and a series of other advantages. The country is a member of the European Union and presents a number of opportunities for Italy’s predominant economic sectors: construction, textiles and energy. Among Bulgaria’s other advantages, it has a stable exchange rate, pegged to the euro, a preferential tax regime and competitive labor costs for skilled workers.
With a GDP of approximately €40 billion and limited inflation, Bulgaria will receive EU funds of over €14 billion through to 2020. In the World Competitiveness Index published by the World Economic Forum, it placed 54th out of 148 countries; on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, Bulgaria in 2013 placed 58th out of 189 countries.
Today, Italy is one of the main commercial partners for the countries of south-east Europe. In 2013, Italian exports to the area reached € 13.6 billion, exceeding the combined exports of China, India and Brazil to the area over the same period. Italian companies that currently have a presence in Bulgaria exceed 1,000, while trade with Italy – the country’s third largest trading partner – totals € 4.2 billion. The Italian export ratio (Italian exports with respect to total Bulgarian imports) to Bulgaria exceeds 7 percent, which is more than twice the worldwide average.
UniCredit Bulbank is the largest bank in the country, with a market share of around 15 percent and a strong local presence of over 200 branches. It is a leader in corporate banking across the complete range of financial solutions to support companies. UniCredit Bulbank serves 1,860 international companies, of which 580 are Italian and have expanded into the country.