Eastern European Markets

September, the 9th 2009

Konsu and Pretax to merge

Pretax, the largest financial management and payroll processing services company in the Nordic region, is set to buy all share capital of Konsu Oy, a company specialising in Russian and Ukrainian business. Thus Pretax will exercise its right to purchase the shares in Konsu Oy owned by Pirjo Karhu and her family members. Konsu will continue its operation in Finland, Russia and Ukraine under its own name as a member of the international Accountor Group set up by Pretax. This transaction will speed up realisation of the goal of Pretax, part of the Accountor Group, to grow into the largest company providing financial and payroll management as well as consulting services in Northern Europe and Russia.

Konsu, which has seen intensive growth over the last few years, is a consulting services company focusing on Russian and Ukrainian business that offers services to Western corporationss in the fields of establishment of companies, financial management, and tax and legal affairs in St Petersburg, Moscow, and Kiev. Most of the 160 employees are Russians; in addition, there are about 20 Finnish personnel. Konsu’s head office is in Lappeenranta, Finland. In addition to Russian and Ukrainian subsidiaries, the company has offices in Helsinki and Munich.

Konsu began business operations in Russia back in 1992, making it the first Western company to do so. Strong local knowledge and international business management are the cornerstones of the company’s success. Konsu’s customers in Russia include corporations from Finland, the other Nordic countries, Germany, Holland, and the United States. One third of the Finnish companies doing business in Russia are customers of Konsu.

‘Konsu is an excellent addition to the business operation entity of Pretax. With this transaction, our current customer companies will receive high-quality, unified financial and payroll management services in Russia and Ukraine, too. This will make it easier to both start new business and grow in a market with great potential for growth. Konsu’s experts understand the needs of Western companies and are familiar with both international legislation and local networks, which is of the utmost importance in Russia and Ukraine,’ says Asko Schrey, the CEO of Pretax.

Pirjo Karhu, CEO of Konsu, says: ‘I am very pleased with this transaction. I will continue as the CEO for now, and I will focus full-time on the duties of chairman of the Board at Konsu from the beginning of 2010. My experiences from three years of co-operation with Pretax have been positive and profitable. I foresee a bright future; we have an excellent chance of implementing our growth strategy, regardless of the economic situation. It is our objective to expand our services to other CIS countries. We can already offer our 450 customer companies an extensive selection of international services.’

The outlook for the Russian economy finally has a positive tone

Finnish exports to Russia have declined approximately 50 per cent from their level of a year ago. Experts estimate that the worst stage of the financial crisis is almost over, as oil prices have levelled off at a little over 70 dollars per barrel and the number of roubles to the euro at 45–46. Furthermore, operating costs of companies based in Russia have fallen more than 30 per cent in the last year. Foreign companies are doing profitable business in Russia, although their rate of growth in turnover has dipped from the average figure for the past fewyears.

‘Companies have reported increasing activity in their business operations since the summer. Also, the threshold for starting business activities in Russia has been lowered. We expect that exports will recover and that there will be more business opportunities late in the year, particularly in the service sector but also for construction and subcontracting services. Now is the right time to expand to the Russian market,’ Karhu encourages.

Sources of further information:
Konsu Group
CEO Pirjo Karhu
tel. +358 400 554 596
CEO Asko Schrey
tel. +358 40 500 16 55

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