Vienna as a business hub: Baroque ain't everything
Published on Bratislava
WHO would swap the baroque splendour of Vienna, its Spanish riding school and Hofburg palace, for bourgeois Geneva or even post-Communist Prague? Alas, more and more companies locating a regional headquarters for central and eastern Europe (CEE) tend to now put good communications and an internationally-minded labour force ahead of grand opera and Sachertorte. That includes The Economist, which moved its regional office from Vienna to Geneva in 2008.To be sure, Vienna is still the regional hub. At the last count, 303 companies have their CEE headquarters in Vienna, 14 more than two years ago. But during that period eight companies pulled out, or were lost through mergers. And firms no longer just look to Vienna's west, where Munich, London and Amsterdam loom large, but east—to Bratislava, Budapest, Prague and Warsaw. Between them, these four cities now boast 80 regional headquarters, according to a study by Wolf Theiss, a consultancy.Vienna has not played its cards well recently, says Leo Hauska, whose public relations firms fronts for Headquarters Austria, a local initiative. Take infrastructure. The expansion of Vienna airport has been dragging on since 2004 and may not even be completed by mid-2012, the latest new target date. Worse, Austrian Airlines, the national carrier, has been bought by Lufthansa and is likely to see its hub shifted to Munich—a heavy blow ...
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