Software maker SAP upbeat on Russia despite risk of sanctions, recession

MOSCOW, March 13 Thu Mar 13, 2014 11:44am EDT

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MOSCOW, March 13 (Reuters) - German business software maker SAP AG is confident it can boost revenue growth in Russia and the former Soviet republics this year, despite the crisis in Ukraine and forecasts that Russia's economy could tip into recession.

Vyacheslav Orekhov, head of SAP's business in the CIS region, said on Thursday that he shared the official view of the German business community in opposing possible economic sanctions against Russia over its military incursion into Ukraine's Crimea region.

SAP's revenues in the region of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which comprises Russia and former Soviet republics including Ukraine, rose by more than 20 percent in 2013.

"Our sales expectations are for double-digit growth (in 2014). We expect a minor acceleration but it will be noticeable against our (global) scale," Orekhov told a press conference on his outlook for the region.

In contrast, SAP's total global group revenues last year rose only 4 percent to 16.8 billion euros, or 8 percent growth at constant currencies.

The German company does not break down its revenue by separate business units but in 2011 it said it aimed to achieve turnover of 1 billion euros ($1.4 billion) in Russia and the CIS region by 2015.

Russia's economy has slowed sharply, expanding by just 1.3 percent last year, and some economists expect that Moscow's involvement in Ukraine and the prospect of economic sanctions may push it into recession in the first half of this year.

Orekhov noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday expressed dissatisfaction with Russia's growth rate, but Orekhov also said he expected investment in Russia's economy would continue and saw risks as moderate.

The Moscow-based Russian-German Chamber of Foreign Trade said on Tuesday that German business was categorically against economic sanctions from both sides and called all parties to engage in dialogue. Orekhov said he supported that view. ($1 = 0.7192 euros) (Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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