Ericsson Nikola Tesla (ERNT) on Thursday marked its 70th anniversary and on that occasion, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said that the company had been setting a positive example for the domestic business community for years.
"We can be proud of having such a company in a sector that is crucial for the development of technologies," Grabar-Kitarovic said at the anniversary-marking ceremony, noting that companies like ERNT raised the level of competitiveness of the Croatian economy and that Croatia needed the competence, excellence, innovation and social responsibility that characterised the company.
ERNT president Gordana Kovacevic said that the company was the first on the list of domestic exporters of know-how. Its experts contribute to the development of ICT and promote Croatia and its people that way, she said, adding that the company was oriented to the future and creation of new opportunities, that it constantly researched and developed new solutions and that it had become a strong research and development centre.
Kovacevic also expressed hope that Croatia's presidency of the Council of the EU would help create new opportunities for research and development and boost the competitiveness of the ICT sector.
Economy Minister Darko Horvat, who also addressed the event, said that in the last three years HRK 9.8 billion had been invested in research and development, while in 2018 investments totalled 3.7 billion, 18.7% more than the year before.
This year, investments in research and development will amount to 1% of GDP, he said.
The former Nikola Tesla company was founded in Zagreb on 31 October 1949. At the time, it employed 113 workers. Opting for the production of automatic telephone exchanges, in 1953 the company signed a licence agreement with Ericsson thus becoming one of its first licence partners in the world. In the late 1950s, the company started with first exports, to the former Soviet Union.
Since its establishment the company has been one of the biggest suppliers of telecommunications solutions in Central and Eastern Europe.
In the early 1990s more intensive activities were launched to transform and privatise the until then socially-owned company. Eventually Ericsson and the Croatian Privatisation Fund in 1995 signed an agreement on the sale of a 49.07% stake in Nikola Tesla, which made Ericsson its biggest single owner.
Small shareholders obtained ownership of 49.98% of the company's shares while the Croatian Privatisation Fund kept the ownership of a 0.95% interest.
In the last 20 years ERNT has built its reputation as a supplier of modern ICT products, solutions, software and services and it has operated, on an equal footing with other members of Ericsson, in the field of modern communications technologies and creation of global communications trends.
ERNT is a leading domestic ICT company employing more than 3,200 mostly highly educated workers. More than 1,500 of its employees work in the biggest domestic research and development centre. ERNT is the leading exporter in the country.
According to its latest financial report, in the first nine months of 2019 ERNT earned HRK 80.8 million in consolidated net profits, an increase of 29.6% from the same period of last year.
Sales amounted to 1.25 billion kuna, up 16% from the same period of last year. Domestic sales accounted for 24.4% of total revenues, services for Ericsson accounted for 60.6% while exports to other markets accounted for 15% of total revenues.