1. Foreign investments in Belgium
This section was prepared in collaboration between the Federal Public Service (FPS) Foreign Affairs and the Liaison Cell Federal-Regions Foreign Investments. The Liaison Cell was created in 1995 as a result of the Cooperation Agreement “Foreign Investments” of 7 February 1995. Its mission is to raise important issues concerning the investment climate in Belgium to policy makers, and create synergies between all the Belgian authorities involved in the attraction of foreign investments. The following authorities are represented in the Cell: FPS Foreign Affairs, FPS Economy, FPS Finance, Flanders Investment and Trade (FIT), Agence wallonne à l’Exportation et aux Investissements Etrangers (AWEX) and the Foreign Trade and Invest Department of the Ministry of the Brussels-Capital Region (Brussels Invest & Export). Its chair is held by the Regions on a rotating basis and its secretariat is ensured by the FPS Economy.
Contact: Secretariat of the Liaison Cell
Vooruitgangstraat 50 rue du Progrès
tel : 02/277.69.13
Korean Air Cargo triples Brussels flights
Korean Air Cargo, the biggest cargo airline company in the world, has announced that it will expand its activities at Brussels Airport. The company currently has three flights per week between Brussels Airport and South Korea and this will increase with immediate effect to four flights per week. By winter, the number of weekly flights will increase to nine.
Korean Air Cargo will transport 60,000 additional tonnes of cargo per year to and from its European hub at Brucargo. This represents approximately 10% of the current total airfreight activity at Brussels Airport.
According to the spokesperson of Brussels Airport this should lead to the creation of 300 direct jobs at Brussels Airport itself and a possible 600 indirect jobs outside of the airport.
PM Group establishes its Benelux headquarters in Wavre
The engineering firm PM Group, which specialises in architectural design and project management, has just established its headquarters for the Benelux countries in Wavre, in order to support its expansion within the region. This decision follows the submission of a certain number of successful tenders by the PM Group.
The company has been awarded several guaranteed contracts in the biopharmaceutical and R & D sectors, worth over 400 million euros.
Major projects for Janssen, GSK, UCB, Abbott and Merck, the contracts, which were won thanks to its strategic partnership with Grontmij Industrie, include: a new chemical development pilot plant for Janssen Pharmaceutica and a major extension for Genzyme in Geel. The partners are also working on major projects within the region for clients which include GSK Biologicals, Abbott (formerly Solvay Pharmaceutical), MSD (formerly Schering Plough) and UCB.
Over the next two years, there is potential for 50 people to be employed at its new headquarters in Wavre and on the client sites. These people will, in the main, be locally-recruited professionals specialising in design and construction.
Belgium is attracting significant investment in the life sciences sector. Speaking during the official opening, Dave Murphy said: “The Belgian pharmaceutical market includes some of the biggest global players in the sector. Eight of them have confirmed growth estimated at over 1.5 billion euros for the next three years.
PM Group has considerable international experience in this sector and we are currently developing our operations within the Benelux countries. Wavre is at the heart of this region and attracts significant international investment from the life sciences industry. We are delighted to be setting up our headquarters here in the Benelux and are confident of being able to grow and develop our company from this key location.”
Brussels to be location for largest Décathlon in Europe
The Boulevard Léopold III district in Evere will soon be home to Décathlon’s new Benelux headquarters and, from 2013, a huge shop and associated restaurant services. The investment by the French sporting giant in the capital is great news as it should create 450 jobs.
Caterpillar invests 150 million euros in Gosselies
For 45 years, Caterpillar Belgium, based in Gosselies, has produced wheel loaders and hydraulic excavators as well as high added value components such as hydraulic cylinders and valves, gears, axles and reduction gears. With the passing of the years, the facilities are beginning to be in need of a major overhaul. This is what has just been decided by the American parent company, which will invest 150 million euros in its Belgian plant. This money will serve not only to renovate assembly lines for wheel loaders and hydraulic excavators but also to widen them in order to adapt them for larger and heavier machines. There is a need for various workshops to also be renovated and for infrastructure works to be undertaken. All of the works should be finished by 2015.
Caterpillar manufactures over 300 products in 23 countries to serve its customers in over 200 countries worldwide. With a turnover of over 42 billion dollars in 2010, Caterpillar is the global leader in the manufacture of machines for civil engineering and mining, and in the manufacture of diesel and natural gas powered engines. The Belgian site employs over 4000 people and is currently the second largest Caterpillar production centre in the world.
Nitto Europe invests 6 million euros in Genk
The head office of Nitto Europe in Genk has just completed a 6-million-euro investment project in a new solvent recycling installation, enabling the company to reduce its annual CO2 emissions by 17%.
Nitto manufactures products such as double-sided adhesive tape, sealing materials, medical tapes and polarising films for LCD screens. The solvents that are produced during the manufacturing process have until now been extracted by air then burnt. The heat generated in this combustion process was already recycled and used to contribute to the heating of the company buildings.
By introducing this latest installation Nitto takes the whole process one step further. The solvents are recuperated via distillation and can then be reused in the production process. “Recycling solvents not only makes us a more ecologically-friendly company, it also enables us to be less dependent on external factors,” explained Eric Pass, Planning and Communication Manager. The price of solvents is based on the price of oil, which is currently highly volatile.
Nitto Europe is a major supplier to international markets such as the automobile sector, the electronics market for the public, paper and printing or the construction sectors. Nitto was founded in 1974 and has a Europe-wide sales network. In 2009-2010, the company, which employs 703 people, posted a turnover of 137 million euros. Nitto Europe is the European headquarters of the Japanese multinational Nitto Denko Corporation, which is made up of 108 different companies around the world.
ITS group acquires IT People, reinforcing its position in Belgium
ITS group, expert in the sustainable development of IT infrastructure, has announced the acquisition, for a sum of EUR 900,000, of 100% of the share capital of IT People, a Belgian company specialising in support and management of IT infrastructure.
Established in 2007, IT People is an IT services company based in Zaventem, employing 23 people and with a turnover of EUR 2 million. IT People provides a service offering focused on support and management of IT infrastructure on behalf of large clients in Belgium. IT People’s consultants are renowned for their substantial expertise in Microsoft environments. The company’s founder, Eddy Van Frachem, is a veritable veteran of the Belgian IT world. He has formerly been, amongst other things, director of Fujitsu Services Belux. He founded IT People in 2007.
Already present in Brussels since its merger with Axialog in early 2010, this acquisition boosts ITS Group’s position in our local, particularly dynamic market, where there is strong demand for IT infrastructure management and hosting expertise.
This first acquisition outside of France demonstrates ITS Group’s desire to establish itself sustainably on the international stage by using local structures recognised for their expertise. With IT People, ITS Benelux, a subsidiary of the ITS Group, will double in size and employ over 40 people. The acquisition of IT People illustrates the ambitious development plan put in place by ITS Group, which aims to increase turnover to more than EUR 130 million between now and 2013 by combining organic growth with targeted acquisitions.
A fifth Starbucks opens in Belgium. The sixth will follow soon…
On 22 June, the American Starbucks chain opened its first café in the centre of Brussels. The new Starbucks, ideally located in the main hall of the Central Station, welcomes the many commuters and tourists who tread the marble of the station each day.
Autogrill Belux, which acquired the licence from Starbucks Coffee Company, is responsible for the daily management of the Starbucks operating in the Belgian territory. Autogrill is already well known in the country since it operates about a hundred catering establishments along motorways, in airports, in shopping centres, in metro stations and in railway stations, under licence from various brands (Pizza Hut Express, Délifrance, Panos, Quick, Delhaize Shop 'n Go and Best Western).
As well as the Starbucks already established in Antwerp Station, in Brussels Airport (three establishments) and now in the capital’s Central Station, a sixth establishment should materialise by the end of this year in Ghent.
Riverbed Technologies, specialising in WAN optimisation, has opened a Belgian subsidiary.
A WAN (Wide Area Network) is a computer network covering a large geographical area, on a country, continental or indeed even a global scale. The American company Riverbed offers virtualisation, bandwidth optimisation and fast backup services over the WAN, enabling companies to make the most of their IT infrastructure.
Even though it already has an office covering the Benelux countries in the Netherlands, Riverbed is now opening a subsidiary in Diegem as a result of the strong growth which the company is experiencing in Belgium.
Founded in 2002, Riverbed Technology operates from 30 offices around the globe and has over 9,200 clients. Its global turnover is 550 million dollars.
Belgian fashion scene flourishes
This year has been busy for the Belgian fashion scene as H&M open their first Men’s store in Brussels, while Dirk Bikkembergs, the Belgian designer sells his label to the Italian Zeis Excelsa and Hollister, the renowned surfers brand comes to Belgium.
With over 70 stores in just Belgium and Luxemburg alone, H&M is extremely popular and highly in demand. From this month onwards, there will also be a H&M on the Rue Neuve in Brussels, a huge building, with a surface area of 440m2 and three floors. This colossal building is the new home to the first Men’s H&M.
Dirk Bikkembergs, the Belgian designer known for his trendy yet sporty clothes; which he states are: ‘where fashion meets sport, and football in particular’. As a member of the ‘Antwerp Six’ fashion designers (six avant garde and dominant designers who graduated from the Antwerp Academy of Fine Arts between 1980/1981), Dirk Bikkembergs did not have any trouble finding a potential buyer for his brand. The opportunity was immediately snatched up by the Italian company Zeis Excelsa, which was already earning a large percentage of its turnover by selling
Bikkembergs shoes and purses. The new CEO of Bikkembergs, Maurizio Pizutti, already has a plan to open ten new Bikkembergs stores within the next year.
Hollister, a worldly recognized brand known for its California surfers look, will open its shops in autumn in both Wijnegem and Waasland shopping centers in Flanders. Hollister is also well known due to the fact that it is an auxiliary of the famous American brand Abercrombie and Fitch. The stores are renowned for their attractive sales staff, who walk around the shop in their beach wear.
A new “Microsoft Innovation Center” in Belgium
The American computer multinational will shortly launch its third “Microsoft Innovation Center” (MIC) in Belgium. Along with the Mons and Brussels MICs, the new centre is due to be set up on two sites in Kortrijk and Genk.
These centres are the result of public-private partnerships and are aimed at encouraging the development of innovative businesses in the IT sector. Their principal missions are to create an innovation-friendly environment, promote knowledge (training, seminars), facilitate the testing of ideas and prototyping and, ultimately, support business creation.
The Kortrijk and Genk centre will, more specifically, be focused on digital applications for the healthcare sector (e-health). The Flanders government supports this Microsoft initiative which is perfectly in keeping with its Flanders’ Care strategic plan which is aimed at stimulating innovation in the Flanders healthcare sector.
A new terminal for Antwerp port
Three world-class companies, Rubis Terminal (France), Intercontinental Terminals Company "ITC" (Houston, USA) and Mitsui & Co Europe (London), have joined forces to create the joint venture ITC Rubis Terminal Antwerp for the construction of a new terminal at Antwerp port.
The new terminal, located on the left bank of the Scheldt, will reinforce the logistics installations of the Antwerp chemical hub and satisfy the growing demand for petrochemical product storage for the European market. The terminal will be equipped with a deepwater jetty and will allow for the storage and handling of liquid or gaseous chemical products and oil products.
The first stage in the project (capacity of 14,000 m3 for gas and 57,000 m3 for chemical products) was officially launched recently. The remainder of the project should be completed between now and mid 2012.
An Indian company to set up a new PET plant in Geel.
An Indian based company – JBF Industries – is to set up a new polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plant in the town of Geel. PET is an extremely important industrial polymer which has a wide spectrum of uses, ranging from food packaging to engineering glass fibers. Around 60% of PET is used for synthetic fibers, whereas 30% is used for bottle production. PET has a growing market due to its appealing physical properties – it is surprisingly light material, an optical polymer and can act as a gas barrier.
JBF Industries, which was established in 1982, has an impressive reputation in the polyester industry, making it one of the top players in the Polyester Partially Oriented Yarns (POY) in India. The Chairman of JBF Industries, B.C Arya, expressed his views that opening a PET facility in Belgium is a huge step to international recognition and caters to the budding polyester market globally. Nonetheless, he is confident that due to JBF’s expertise, its long term experience in the field of polyesters and its strategic commitment to its customers, a sustainable and competitive market will be launched in the heart of Europe. JBF Industries already has a well established and thriving PET plant in the United Arab Emirates with a fiscal turnover of 663 million US dollars in 2010-2011 alone.
The new PET facility in Geel will be adjacent to BP’s purified terephtalic acid (PTA) plant. Both companies, JBF Industries and BP Aromatics, have come to an agreement about the new plant and BP will be supplying PTA for JBF Industries. The new PET facility in Geel is said to be ready in 2014 and will have an astonishing capacity of 390,000 million tonnes per year.
Dutch dredging company’s head office moves to Antwerp.
A Dutch dredging company – Boskalis’ – head office will move from The Netherlands to Antwerp, Belgium from July onwards. Royal Boskalis Westminster is a large-scale international company which is part of the maritime infrastructure sector and conducts maritime services, among which dredging and earthmoving. Amid other things, the company takes on assignments in the gas, oil, ports and coastal defense markets. Boskalis also owns URS, a salvage and towage company, originally from Antwerp, and Smit, a maritime service provider. URS, has been owned by the company Smit for several years, while Boskalis has only recently acquired Smit.
The head office of Boskalis will accommodate the financial, commercial, maintenance and operational activities of the URS, which is located along the Italielei in Antwerp. The change of location of the head office of Boskalis was announced by the General Manager of URS, Peter Vierstraete, quite recently. This was anticipated as two new tugboats, the Union Hawk and the Union Eagle, which were manufactured in Spain, were finally ready for use. These two tugboats have a massive bollard pull (BP) of 86 tonnes, making them the most powerful tugboats in the Port of Antwerp. Boskalis and its partner companies boast 14,000 employees, operating in over 65 countries, across 6 continents.
Flemish research centre, Imec, forms a partnership with Indian Wipro Technologies
The Flemish research centre, Imec, has collaborated with Wipro Technologies in India. Imec will be introduced into the Indian market, with the establishment of Imec India in Bangalore.
Imec is a Flemish research centre in Leuven which performs world leading research in nanotechnology, among which wireless communication and imaging systems. Imec provides a greener technology for a healthy and sustainable life style. Wipro Technologies is an Indian based company which advertises greener computing with style. Their partnership will cater for creating innovative nanotechnology systems for growing markets in the Middle East. These systems can be created due to this first class partnership by making systems-on-chip that can be combined with many functions such as optical or chemical functions.
Both Imec and Wipro Technologies have a number of awards and partnerships to their name. Wipro was ranked among the top 25 Enterprise companies in FinTech and won the Global Product Excellence Award in 2010 in the Identity Management Solution category. It also boasts a huge number of partner alliances with huge names such as Microsoft, Intel and McAfee. Imec’s employees have won a variety of awards, from the Chancellors Fellowship Award to the Graduate Research Mentor Fellowship Award. Imec also has many partnerships to its name, such as the American Semiconductor Companies, NVIDIA, and Atrenta, a provider of systems-on-chip solutions.
Both companies have an outstanding net income, with Imec’s revenue at 285 million Euros in 2010 alone, while Wipro Technologies managed a net income in 2009 of 806 million US dollars. Due to both companies’ innovative technologies and huge success, they both employ a soaring number of employees, with Wipro Technology employing over 120,000 and Imec employing almost 2000.
Belgian Technology to be used in a high tech Chinese gaming device
A Chinese technology company, Eedo Technology, is using a Belgian 3D sensor technology to use in their new gaming device iSec. The practical sensor was made by a Belgian company, SoftKinetic, which is located in the heart of Belgium, Brussels. Eedo Technologies has exclaimed that they were, ‘very impressed by SoftKinetic’s 3D gesture-recognition technologies and found that it was a very good solution to support our iSec platform, in terms of cost and performance.’
Eedo Technology is a vast gaming company which specializes in 3D and interactive gaming. One of Eedo Technology investors is Chinas biggest computer manufacturers, The Levono Group. The new technology, the iSec platform is said to be launched in the second half of the year in China exclusively. Both Eedo Technology and Levono have set a very high target for iSec sales. They are aiming for the sales to reach 120 million. If over 1 million examples are sold, they will consider selling the device internationally.
SoftKinetic was formed in July 2007 and its mission was to ‘transform the way people interact with the digital world’. SoftKinetic are the top suppliers of gesture based platforms for consumer electronics and markets. Within the iSec there is a depth sensing hardware, which uses a standard camera sensor to measure how long it takes for light to bounce of objects and return to its source. This indicates that the users will be able to navigate through a game using their bodies.
A free DanceWall game will be included in the purchase of an iSec, which was also created by SoftKinetics. However, video games and interactive user interface This interactive game consists of moving the players body to fit holes in approaching walls.
Brown McFarlane’s new stockholding facility in Antwerp immediately put to good use.
Brown McFarlane, a renowned company for its steel plates, opened a warehouse facility in the port of Antwerp, which was put to immediate use as orders of steel plates were instantly put in place.
Brown McFarlane was founded in 1889 by Captain A.R Brown who was joined by a naval architect, George McFarlane. They formed a partnership and from this affiliation they created a joint venture, A.R Brown McFarlane & Co. Ltd. In the 1800’s the company’s main function was the building of ships in Japan and exporting machinery. In 1915 a London office was opened, to be directly followed by an office in Antwerp, New York and Tokyo. Nowadays, Brown McFarlane export steel plates to over 50 countries worldwide. It has an astounding turnover of 90 million USD and employs almost 200 people. Its headquarters are still in the UK, but over the years Brown McFarlane has developed into one of Europe’s biggest and distinguished steel plate companies.
The stockholding facility in Antwerp seemed like a long awaited investment. After all, the majority of the steel that leaves Europe departs from the Port of Antwerp. Now
that the stock is being held in the warehouse in Antwerp, the delivery schedules are more flexible and the transportation process a great deal faster. This is not only an advantage for the customers, but to Brown McFarlane too, who will be saving both precious time and money.
Brown McFarlane’s striking opening stock in Antwerp, which consisted of more than 1000 tonnes of steel, will be added to over time. A month after the announcement of the opening of the stockholding facility in Antwerp, Brown McFarlane have broadcasted that a new stockholding facility will also be opened in Singapore on the 1st of July.
Sapa to launch new powder coating department in Landen
A Swedish company - Sapa - which produces aluminum building systems will invest a grand total of over 4 million Euros in the production of the new powder coating department in Landen. Powder coating, like painting, creates a layer on top of a surface. However, powder coating does not need a solvent to keep the parts in liquid suspension. It has to be heated to form that tough skin, associated typically with coating. This rather broad technology can be used for a variety of functions; such as dressing trains with an aluminum coating to reduce the noise output, or making the world’s smallest billboard in aluminum.
Sapa Building Systems, which was founded in 1963, has a global reputation for its profile based building systems, aluminum profiles and heat exchanger solutions in aluminum. It is the worlds leading producer of aluminum profiles and the fourth largest supplier of aluminum building systems in the world. The company employs a massive 14.800 people all across the globe, from the USA to Lithuania to Mexico. A grand total of 180 employees work on the site in Landen, Belgium. The number of employees in Belgium will expand by around 25 people due to the new department. In 2010, the company had astonishing net sales of 32 995 million SEK.
The site in Landen usually works with aluminum profiles of doors and windows, which are then sent all over the globe to their customers. The new powder coating department means that the company will take over an essential phase in the production of the coating profiles. Plant manager, Mik Durwael states, ‘The coating is the last step in the production process, but also the most sensitive one.’
Nike to open another distribution center in Belgium
Worldly recognized sports retailer Nike has said to be opening a distribution center in Herentals.
The global retailer Nike was established in 1972, starting off with an athlete and a trainer in Oregon. Since then, Nike can be found all over the globe, in more than 160 countries. Nike now has reported revenues (recorded in May 2010) of 19 billion US dollars and employs globally over 1 million people, with 300 more jobs available with the launch of the new distribution center.
However, Belgium is not a new site for Nike. In 1994, the first Nike distribution center in Belgium was built in Laakdal, close to Herentals. The shop in Herentals itself is an enormous warehouse, recently built with shops and offices. 20.000 square meters of this huge site is to be used as warehouse space, while another 930 square meters is covered by offices and an additional 4100 square meters will be used for mezzanine structures. Due to the extremely large space, Nike will occupy this structure in phases, starting from September 2011 and ending in the early months of 2012. The recently built business offices will be leased to Nike by Intervest Offices & Warehouses, which is a property investment fund which owns the Herentals Logistics2 site.
Why choose Herentals? Nike Europe chose Herentals not just because of its large surface area but also due to the possibility of extension. The Herentals Logistic2 site is, moreover, located close to a major highway, the E313 which links to Germany. On top of that, the warehouse is equipped with solar panels, and with Nike Europe being partisans of greener energy, this seemed like a perfect location.