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19.03.2014, 12:03

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BMB Leitner Tax Team: Changes to Income Tax and Cross-border Transactions

Tax burden of legal entities. Since 01/01/2014, the tax rate applicable to legal entities has decreased by one percent, i.e. the new rate is 22% instead of the previously applicable 23%. However, the state budget should be strengthened by the newly introduced tax licenses. With respect to individuals, tax rates remain unchanged – two tax rates are applicable: 19% and 25% (for income exceeding EUR 34 thousand). Limitation of tax loss utilization. The possibility to utilize tax losses within the period of 7 years introduced only three years ago shall be limited and restricted since 2014. White List and withholding tax of 35%. Another measure focused on the fight against tax evasion is the introduction of the concept “taxpayer of a non-contracting state”. Slovak entities paying out income to such taxpayers shall apply an increased tax rate of 35% and are liable for the payment of this tax. The Slovak Ministry of Finance has issued a list of states (“White List”) which have valid international treaties with Slovakia and in relation to which the new measure will not be applied. Income of non-residents from Slovak sources. Since 2014 the scope of income of non-residents taxable in Slovakia has been widened. However, the majority of transactions carried out by Austrian residents enjoy protection based on the advantages of the Double Tax Treaty between Austria and Slovakia – we recommend analysing these situations. Transfer pricing. With respect to the changes applicable since 2014, we recommend paying attention mainly to the timely preparation of documentation, as the time limit for the submission of the documentation to the tax administrator has been shortened from 60 days applicable previously to 15 days after the delivery of the request. Further information on the above topics can be found in our Mailing BMB Leitner under www.bmbleitner.sk.

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STEFE

The company has been operating in Slovakia since 1995 and it currently holds the position of an important thermal energy producer and distributor. Our logo - the green letter E - symbolizes the principle of efficient and ecological energy in Slovakia. “For STEFE, customers and the quality of the offered services for a fair price are always paramount. We focus all our efforts on stabilizing household heating costs and the preparation of hot usable water. The market survey shows that comfort, reliability, and supply security are very important to our clients as well. With us, customers gain a reliable, competent partner who takes care of their heating 24 hours, 7 days a week,” says Josef Landschützer, Chairman of the STEFE Board. STEFE has a strong economic background and professional international experience in heat, electricity, and gas. It also bets on the utilization of the newest technologies. The energy industry is at a turning point across Europe and in our region. “We have been spared the greatest market turmoil. Last year was successful for us as a company, although we estimate that the next period will be increasingly challenging, also due to the growing demands of the regulatory office. We’re optimists and don’t complain. Instead we’re trying to create new business models in order to grow and continue with our strength,” concludes Landschützer.

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The Austrian Porsche Grew Up with Beetles

Virtually each new Volkswagen Group car that appears on the Slovak roads passes through the hands of dealers from Porsche Slovakia. During the twenty years of its existence, the importer has brought in altogether 160,000 Volkswagen, Audi, Seat, and Volkswagen commercial vehicles. Porsche Slovakia is the daughter company of Porsche Holding with their headquarters in Salzburg, which was established in 1947 and participated in the commercial success of the first generation VW Beetle in Austria. After 1989, Porsche Holding headed eastwards. New markets opened, historically and in mentality close to Austrians. The first was in Hungary, followed by Slovenia and former Czechoslovakia, where Porsche Slovakia was created after the separation, on April 1, 1994. Local subsidiaries develop dealer networks in their territories. In Slovakia, Porsche Slovakia has contracts with 51 authorized dealers. It supplies vehicles to them and monitors whether they meet predetermined standards, have quality sellers, mechanics, exhibition areas, and demonstration vehicles. VW is the second best-selling brand in Slovakia, following Škoda, which is still considered “domestic”. Since it’s a sister automobile company, this rivalry is perceived less painfully. However, the increasingly serious competitors are the Korean brands, which entered with a deliberate sales policy and strong marketing. On the contrary, the luxury segment on the Slovak market is exclusively a German thing – Audi competes with traditional rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

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Our Goal is to Offer Company Solutions

Slovenská Sporiteľňa, belonging to the Austrian banking Erste Group, was for the first three quarters of last year the fastest growing bank in Slovakia’s corporate sector. “When we compare the market shares, in 2013 we became the third-largest bank in the domestic corporate sector. The positive thing is that we didn’t project just in one area; the growth was driven in all business segments equally. It’s also thanks to a strong and capable team of people,” says Peter Krutil, Member of Slovenská Sporiteľňa’s Board, responsible for corporate banking. He continues saying that the bank thrived in the small and medium enterprise sector, real estate financing, major corporations, the public sector, and special and project financing.

Slovenská Sporiteľňa has been visible in several large businesses, surpassing the Slovak borders with their importance and size, especially in the energy field. Krutil recalls that Slovenská Sporiteľňa participated while financing the purchase of a 49% SPP share by Energetický a Průmyslový holding, when financing the purchase of Stredoslovenská Energetika’s shares, in the syndicated loan for U.S. Steel Košice, as well as an important loan for Slovnaft.

In the small and medium size enterprise sector, Slovenská Sporiteľňa has become a first choice bank for many people. “Hi-tech company SPINEA appreciated our help when financing its development, while the speed at which they received the money was crucial. We helped myWood Polomka Timber become an important employer in the Banská Bystrica region. We provided finances for the construction of an administrative building and service hall for the TURANCAR travel agency and bus operator. According to the latest survey, the number of our active clients has significantly increased. These are the clients that use as us their first or second bank,” says Krutil.

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STRABAG is a Successful European Concern

Thomas Birtel has been Chairman of the Board in STRABAG SE since June 2013. His concern has a leading position in terms of innovations and capital strength, and it creates added value for work outsourcers by integrating the most varied performances and assuming responsibility for them. In 1999, the Austrian Bauholding acquired a major share in the double-sized German construction company STRABAG and later the entire concern adopted this name.

As the main shareholders, the Raiffeisen and UNIQA groups have had a permanent place in the ownership structure since 1998. Stable conditions lead to the fact that decisions are oriented on the long-term prosperity of the concern. STRABAG is one of the few companies that has international representation in almost all construction sectors. It achieves roughly eighty per cent of its performance in the key European markets, from which about half is in Germany and around fifteen per cent in Austria. The third largest market is Poland with almost six per cent of the concern’s business. It’s approximately five per cent in the Czech Republic, Hungary around four, and Slovakia three per cent.

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Lansky Ganzger Partner

The Lansky, Ganzger & Partner law office is now an established law firm in Slovakia as well. The credo of the company belonging among the market leaders in the legal sector is to think transparently and solve problems pragmatically. The company established itself on the Slovak market in various legal areas due to its broad experience.

Within the international law firms operating in the central and eastern European region, the company is considered a pragmatic problem solver and it actively operates within the confines of law, politics, and economics. In addition to Bratislava and Vienna, it now operates in more than 50 countries worldwide, where it has established and qualified partners. “Know-how and a strong international background form one of the elements of our work and we’re successfully bringing European standards to Slovak reality. The result is a high degree of efficiency in the cases for our clients,” says Štefan Holý, co-owner and executive of LGP Bratislava. From its experience the company knows that legal problems often concern a number of non-legal topics. “The Slovak legal environment is highly crystallized, which is good in my opinion, because it’s also easily readable. On the other hand, it’s a highly competitive environment and the acquisition of any relevant mandate is a challenge in itself.” That is why the company works as a perfectly coordinated team when seeking solutions.

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Strong Tradition, Innovations, and Guarantees

“During two decades, our products and services have been utilized by 1.5 million clients – savers, loan collectors, and insured people. Throughout that time, the building society provided 2 billion Euros for housing to its clients,” says Ing. Jozef Adamkov, Member of the Board at Wüstenrot Stavebná Sporiteľňa, a.s. and Wüstenrot Poisťovňa a.s. This manager points out that a wide availability of products and services is as important as quality. The building society and insurance company clients can utilize more than 70 Wüstenrot centers and agencies, and a wide network of independent financial advisors all over Slovakia. Both companies are profitable in the long term and have a stable position on the Slovak market with the ambition of further growth.

Wüstenrot is typical for its innovative approach, reminds Adamkov. The innovations from the Slovak Wüstenrot gained public favor and inspired the competition. For example, vehicle insurance with automobile categorization according to engine power was brand new in its year of introduction. Investment life insurance is unique on the Slovak market due to several characteristics. Similarly, building savings have several positive specifications for Wüstenrot clients.

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Gebrüder Weiss: 20 Successful Years in Slovakia

Gebrüder Weiss opened its Bratislava branch in 1993. Since its establishment, the chain has been developing very positively in Slovakia. Within the European chain of the Austrian transport and logistics enterprise, it has launched the first international collective consignments. Direct transport with Germany and Italy has also been established. In 2005, a new terminal was put into operation in Senec near Bratislava, and in 2010 another terminal costing about 10 million Euros was opened. Other logistics halls with a total area of 4,600 m² were added last year. More than 150 employees achieving a turnover of about 27 million Euros are currently working at Gebrüder Weiss in the Slovak Republic. Gebrüder Weiss is the warrantor and sponsor of the logistics department at the High School in Martin, and entered into a partnership with the Plamienok children’s hospice. In total, Gebrüder Weiss has more than 5,000 employees, 162 company branches, and its annual turnover represents more than one billion Euros (2011).

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First Green Offices in Košice

Austrian developer Bischoff et Compagnons has opened the first green office building EcoPoint Office Center in Košice. The investor focused on the outskirts of the city with good road access. Tenants can avoid the traffic jams in the center, where there are parking problems. The building utilizes advanced green technologies. For example, the heat pumps and surface heating and cooling utilize the principle of pleasant radiant heat or cold as opposed to unhealthy air conditioners. Thirty 130m-deep geothermal wells under each building serve as the primary source of heat and cold. They provide optimum thermal, acoustic, and light comfort, while the operational costs are 1 to 1.5 EUR/m² lower than the competition.

Overall, there are more than 16,000 m² of offices in three separate buildings. A large company can rent an individual building. In the case of a growing number of employees, there’s the option of expanding into the interconnected adjacent building.

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With the Slovak-Austrian Connection We’re Unique

The consulting group offers complete accounting, administration, and tax agenda services to clients operating in three Central European countries. “In Slovakia and the Czech Republic we do business under the name AUDITOR, and in Austria its Stöger & Partner, says MMag. Ulrich Paugger, a tax consultant with an Austrian license, who is the executive of a Slovak tax and accounting office. He recalls that the company has many Austrians among clients in Slovakia, and vice versa, an increasing number of Slovak and Czech business people in Austria. “Internally, we call our conception ‘the Austrian-Czech-Slovak monarchy.’ The point is that our clients receive counseling about all three countries from one place in their native language in our office which is closest to them,” says this manager. “Imagine that as a Slovak businessman from Bratislava decides to enter the Austrian market. We invite them to our office and go through the details of their business plan with regard to Austrian legislation. We clearly point out the cultural legislative differences of both countries. Together we choose the best method of operation in Austria,” he adds.

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Brantner in Slovakia

Brantner operates in eight European countries and employs over 3,000 people. It expanded to Slovakia in 1992. Brantner Group companies provide comprehensive services in waste management to more than 550,000 citizens and 2,000 companies. They operate 5 landfills and 6 sorting plants. The Group also provides technical services: summer and winter road maintenance, care of public greenery, the maintenance and modernization of public lighting, etc. The Group realized the first project concerning the active degassing of landfill gas in Slovakia and reduced the emission equivalent at its landfills, amounting to 500,000 tons of CO2. At the Spišská Nová Ves landfill, it installed an electricity generator from landfill gases. The Group also has one of the first devices for the mechanical treatment and combination of various waste types that serve as alternative fuel for the cement industry. It’s the holder of the ISO 9001:2009, ISO 14001:2005, and OHSAS 18001:2009 certificates.

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Böhler-Uddeholm SLOVAKIA, s.r.o.

Böhler-Uddeholm SLOVAKIA, s.r.o. is the Slovak leader in the heat treatment of tool steel. It’s the full daughter of the Special Steels division in the Voestalpine AG concern. The Special Steels division is the world leader in the tool steel market. Böhler-Uddeholm SLOVAKIA, s.r.o. is also part of the global network of heat treatment operations within the concern. In 2006, this Slovak daughter company opened a heat treatment operation in Martin, now equipped with the largest number of vacuum furnaces in Slovakia.

The heat treatment operation currently has technologies of vacuum hardening with nitrogen pressure, oil hardening in a vacuum, and vacuum tempering. In chemical and thermal processing, the company offers nitriding, nitrooxidizing, carbonitriding, carbooxynitriding, and plasma nitriding using the following technologies: MICROPULS plasma nitriding and gas nitriding in a controlled atmosphere.

Last year the company commissioned a new nitriding capacity – NITREX gas nitriding in a controlled atmosphere.

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Company Made of Steel

“Our main problem in Europe is definitely not demand; we rather created the problem ‘ourselves.’ Since in the steel industry there are a large number of job positions, a self-purification from excessive production capacity can hardly occur,” thinks Mgr. Christian Dopplmair, Managing director of voestalpine Slovakia, s.r.o., about the current situation in the steel industry. “We regret the European Union’s regulatory policy on ecology certificates,” he further states. “This fact leads to a significant competitive disadvantage for the steel industry from the EU – it doesn’t even ensure that the ‘good ones’ in the environmental protection policy will actually benefit from it. Ultimately, this policy within the EU may jeopardize job positions. The worst part is that the current EU regulatory policy is not the least suitable for really achieving important environmental protection objectives. As one of the cleanest global steel producers, we feel especially sorry about this here at voestalpine.

page: 55

Miba – Slovakia is becoming an Important Industrial Location

Miba AG is an international group of companies with headquarters in the Upper Austrian Laakirchen. It produces sintered component parts, plain bearings, friction linings, power electronics components, and coatings. Currently it employs around 4,600 employees in more than 20 plants worldwide. Since 2001 it has invested around 55 million Euros altogether in Slovakia. The recently extended Miba Sinter Slovakia plant in Dolný Kubín employs approximately 700 people and belongs among the most important industrial employers. Since 1991, Miba has been providing its customers in the automotive industry with powder metallurgy application of the highest precision and quality.

The Miba Steeltec plant in Vráble was opened by the Austrian Miba technological group in 2007 with the aim of taking advantage of the economic growth in the south-western region of Slovakia. It supplies the construction machinery industry, and the automotive and airborne industries, with top quality steel plates.

page: 56

Oberbank – Independent Regional Bank in the Heart of Europe

The oldest Austrian independent joint-stock bank, Oberbank has more than 140 years of tradition. It was founded in 1869 in Linz, the Upper Austria province. It provides comprehensive banking service for private and corporate clients. Originally, Oberbank only had agencies in Upper Austria and Salzburg. Since 1988, it has opened branches in Vienna and the Lower Austria province, and in 1990 it expanded to the German Bavaria; the Czech Republic followed in 2004, Hungary in 2007, and in April 2009 it also opened a branch in Slovakia. After the establishment of the first branch in Bratislava in 2009, it also opened branches in Nitra and Žilina, and in 2011 in Banská Bystrica and Trenčín.

Around 600 Austrian and German Oberbank customers have offices or business contacts in Slovakia. These customers appreciate international collaboration with the same banking partner.

Another important objective of Oberbank in Slovakia is the acquisition of Slovak companies and private clients. It wants to achieve this through an attractive offer, as well as an individual and flexible approach to any client needs.

Oberbank is among the most prudent and conservative banking houses; it does not do any risky and speculative business, only what it’s able to realize in-house. That is why the bank’s main objectives include a balanced increase of loans and deposits so that the entire volume of provided loans can be refinanced from client deposits.

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