CEE - Local investors should take the chance to grab stable investment opportunities ino Central and Eastern Europe while many foreign investors remain wary, according to Werner Weihs-Raabl, head of group infrastructure finance and public sector at Erste Group.
An infrastructure panel at a Viennese conference, consisting of investors as well as construction companies, today argued infrastructure will remain an important issue in the CEE region as the local market is seen as having a lot of potential to catch up with other elements of the market.
That said, delegates also noted the financing of these projects has become more difficult in the course of the credit crisis not only because banks have become more cautious but because fewer investors want to commit to the region.
"The future perspective is to get more local institutions, like pension funds, to invest in these projects," said Weihs-Raabl.
"They are increasingly in need of stable investment opportunities like these."
According to Weihs-Raabl, this will enhance the transition process in the area from foreign investors to local investors.
"For foreign investors, it will be more difficult in the future to put money in the region," he noted, hinting at the deterioration of confidence in the region's growth potential among many investors.
Aside from traffic projects such as new roads, energy is now considered one of the most important fields of new investments in the CEE.
Weihs-Raabl pointed out continuous returns will be generated by renewable energy such as windfarm projects, which are also growing in significance in the CEE region.
Wolfgang Ruttensdorfer, CEO of Austrian oil company OMV, had also earlier suggested the recent gas crisis between the Ukraine and Russia will lead to new energy investments including new pipelines to stronger connect various countries and decrease their individual dependency on one supplier.
Financial support for these projects will also come from the European Bank of Recovery and Development (EBRD) which had planned to close its operations in many CEE countries including Slovakia before the crisis hit.
The bank is now expected to step in to support infrastructure projects with long-term perspective "which are more than just the means to win the next election", a EBRD-delegate in the audience told the conference.
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