Vienna, 4 December 2018

CRIF Survey: Austria's businesses clearly in domestic hands

Vienna, 4 December 2018: The majority of companies located in Austria are under Austrian ownership according to a recent survey by the end-to-end knowledge company CRIF.

Again this year, CRIF analysed and compared all companies operating in Austria and registered in the trade register, examining how many are entirely under Austrian ownership and how many are wholly foreign owned. The results are unambiguous: Of around 250,400 companies, 93% are exclusively owned by Austrians. They generate roughly 69% of the total revenue of all companies operating in Austria. Approximately 98% of these are SMEs and sole proprietorships.

“Small and medium-sized enterprises, including many family businesses, shape the Austrian economy and create valuable jobs. Their small-scale structures usually make them less attractive than large companies for acquisition by international corporations and as a result they remain largely in Austrian hands,” explains Boris Recsey, Managing Director of CRIF Austria.

Foreign owners are primarily from Germany

By contrast, 7% of companies are exclusively foreign owned. The revenue reported by these companies is comparatively high at around 31% of all companies surveyed in this study. Most of these businesses have owners from Germany (32%), followed by Switzerland (9%), Great Britain (8%), and the Netherlands (7%).

What is striking when viewed on a provincial level in Austria is that the owners come primarily from neighbouring countries. In Burgenland, for example, 40% of companies with foreign owners belong to Hungarians and a further 9% to Slovaks. In Carinthia, 31% of foreign-owned companies are owned by Italians and 13% by Slovenians. In Vorarlberg, the Swiss own 33% of the companies with foreign owners, the Germans 32%, and the Liechtensteiners 14%. In Vienna, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Tyrol, and Styria, the majority of foreign owners come from Germany.

Retail has highest share of foreign owners

CRIF also analysed the three sectors of production, retail, and services in the context of the survey. This analysis shows that companies under sole Austrian ownership increasingly operate in the service sector (26%) and in retail (25%), with production (8%) lagging well behind. Retail trade (39%) clearly ranks first among companies that are exclusively foreign owned.

Risk minimisation in international business

“Europe is becoming more and more networked, as can be seen from the ownership relationships for one thing, but cross-border trade flows are naturally experiencing a sharp increase in our globalised world. This harbours a multitude of opportunities, yet the more difficult it is to obtain information for foreign business, the greater the risk if there is not enough up-to-date and reliable corporate information available about the relevant foreign contracting party,” explains Recsey. CRIF’s “SkyMinder” solution for international corporate information helps to remedy this situation. “SkyMinder” provides companies with swift access to the best local providers of credit, financial, and economic information about any company in over 230 countries worldwide.