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COWI to open IT service centre in Vilnius 

April 06, 2012, Invest lithuania
Danish engineering consulting and design company COWI A/S is establishing an IT operations and service centre in Lithuania to centralise and optimise the operations it carries out across five continents. Over the next two years, the company plans to invest LTL 5.3 million (EUR 1.5 million) in the centre - which will be in Vilnius - and employ 20 people.

Despite the difficult economic environment in 2011, the company says it is investing in the future and is hopeful that its performance will improve this year. Foreign companies have been eager to invest in Lithuania during the
global economic downturn, with many moving their IT, accounting and customer service units to the country to be able to provide the same quality of service but at a lower cost than other European cities such as Copenhagen or London.

"This investment increases the number of foreign companies - including Swedbank, SEB, Nielsen & Nielsen and others - that have gained a foothold in Lithuania and have decided to move units that perform centralised functions to our country," said Milda Dargužaitė, Managing Director of Invest Lithuania.

These moves, she added, demonstrate the confidence that foreign companies have in Lithuania's investment environment. The Lithuanian Government has set 2015 as the target for the country to become North East Europe's centre for business services, and 2020 for it to be the leader in innovation in the region. 

"With an infrastructure in place and COWI Lietuva management in Lithuania, it took us six months to make the decision to establish the centre. Our positive experience of co-operation with Invest Lithuania, a familiar investment environment, the supply of highly-skilled employees and the country's excellent infrastructure were also key factors. Compared with other countries such as India, Brazil and Philippines, Lithuania is geographically close to the Scandinavian markets with only minor cultural differences," Betina Carlsen, the head of the COWI Group IT Service Desk Department, said.

 Lithuania-based COWI Lietuva UAB is a subsidiary of the Danish engineering consulting company COWI A/S. It has enjoyed good performance in Lithuania and is one of the largest engineering, consulting and design companies in the country, offering the widest range of services. An analysis of this year's plans for foreign direct investment (FDI) has found that one in five regional FDI projects will be in the areas of IT, financial services, business services, renewable energy and automotive industries. 

According to the Bank of Lithuania, as of December 31, 2011, FDI in Lithuania amounted to LTL 37.2 billion (EURO 10.8 billion), up by 4.5 per cent from 2010. FDI per capita averaged LTL 11.615 (EURO 3.364). FDI into Lithuania in 2011 amounted to LTL 3.02 billion (EUR 0.87 million) or 2.8 per cent of GDP. COWI A/S is an international group of companies implementing projects and providing advice in all engineering and related areas. Established in Denmark, the company now has representative offices and subsidiaries in many countries around the world including Sweden, the United States, Canada, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Norway, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Hungary, Bahrain, Dubai, Oman, Qatar, China, Tanzania, Uganda, the Philippines and India. It employs approximately 6,000 people across the world.