Newsletter May 2016 – Archived

Newsletter May 2016

The Austrian Business Chamber (ABC) is a Non Profit Organisation in South Africa founded in 1996. This body is dedicated to the representation and support of the interests of Austrian business people and companies in South Africa as well as of the general South African business sector with Austrian ties and connections.

Editor’s Comments

Christian Neuberger

Good mood Moody’s

One may be excused for wondering whether Moodys’ analysts were smoking something peculiar, illegal plants or simply their socks, when they recently confirmed SA’s investment grade credit rating. Amongst all the recent negativity around us, their report was certainly a welcome reprieve, and gives us some hope that our ailing SA economy may indeed soon start to recover.However, the harsh reality facing us and South African business certainly appears very different and we will soon see whether other rating agencies agree with Moody’s view.

Deputy Reserve Bank Governor Daniel Mminele recently referred to SA’s economy as ‘lying flat on its back’. Unemployment has risen to unprecedented levels and has reached 36.3% of people between 15 -64 available to take up jobs. Youth unemployment is substantially higher. Economic Growth has dropped to 0,5%. There isn’t a day we don’t read about new retrenchments taking place, with little hope for those retrenched to find alternate employment. Media coverage of our president is mainly focussed on scandals, corruption and his failure to uphold the constitution. We are certainly pleased to have the very capable Pravin Gordhan back and running our Finance Ministry, but what an uphill battle it must be for him, when for example his attempt to change an inapt SAA Board, is swiftly undermined by our President’s support for another one of his friends.

In the meantime, our ministers continue to focus on populist actions and statements, but are failing to address the underlying problems of the country. When Fikilie Mababula bans four sporting codes from hosting and bidding for international tournaments, he cares little about the massive impact of his decision on our ailing economy and tourism industry. He conveniently forgets that the actual fault for a lack of transformation lies in him having doing very little to develop school sports and consequently our talent pool.

Home affairs continues to hold on to controversial visa rules that inhibit international tourism. And with a complete disregard to our skills shortage and a false hope of protecting local jobs, Home Affairs makes bringing foreign skills to the country continuously more difficult, causing grave concern for international companies and reducing their willingness to bring much need foreign investment.

On the business front, all emphasis is being put on new BEE policies, black ownership and minimum wages, in itself applaudable measures but certainly not encouraging foreign investment and doing little to encourage job creation. At the same time, very little is being done to address South Africa’s main weakness in achieving these applaudable goals, namely to further education and skills development, in particular within the previously disadvantage communities.

So based on what i see currently happening in SA, i’m more inclined to say – what a balls up – than siding with Moody’s more upbeat message. But maybe the truth lies in the preamble to their report. Moody’s came to the view that the country is likely approaching a turning point after several years of falling growth – it certainly can’t get much worse, than with all the problems surrounding South Africa and our current leadership, the pressure for transformation within the ANC is on, let’s just hope this change won’t come too late.

With best regards, your
Christian Neuberger

ABC News


2016 is a very special year for the Austrian Business Chamber in South Africa. 2016 marks 20 years that the Austrian Business Chamber has been providing Austrian affiliated business people in South Africa a formidable platform for networking, business support and a common voice with government lobbying.

During this time, the ABC has grown into a well-respected organisation with close to one hundred members, has developed strong links to other bilateral chambers and the Austrian Trade Commission, which has also become the home of the ABC, and we have become a founding member of the European chamber in South Africa.

The ABC celebrated this special occasion in an equally special setting, with a cocktail function at the Saxon Hotel, one of our most recent members.

We would also like to extend a special thank you to the sponsors of this event: Backaldrin, Geecom, Greiner Foam, Richard Leiter, and WerthSchroeder.


On 19 May, the 2016 Annual General Meeting was held at the Balalaika Hotel. The proceedings at the well attended meeting were led by our Chairman Thomas Zilk.

Highlight of the meeting was no doubt the keynote address by Gauteng provincial premier David Makhura, followed by a Sundowner Networking event. David Makhura outlined the numerous activities the Gauteng government has been undertaking to encourage and facilitate business in the province. The exceptionally well spoken and well educated Gauteng Premier certainly instilled great hope in or business community that South Africa will still be able to get back on track.

All current directors of the Austrian Business Chamber stood for re-election and were unanimously re-elected to continue to lead our Chamber. Kay Schroeder extended a vote of thanks to the Board on behalf of our members.

Sadly, our president Thomas Zilk announced his intention to retire from the Board at the next AGM after having been a most valuable board member and president since the inception of the Austrian Business Chamber. Should there be any members that would like to join the Board during the coming year, please approach any of our current Board members in this regard. We all welcome your assistance in taking this organisation from strength to strength.

We furthermore want to thank the Balalaika Hotel for hosting this event.

For those who were unable to attend the meeting, please find herewith for your reading pleasure:


Her Excellency the Austrian Ambassador Mrs. Oeppinger Walchshofer, the Austrian Trade Commissioner Dr Johannes Brunner, Deputy Head of Mission of the Austrian Embassy Mr Matthias Radosztics, Deputy Austrian Trade Commissioner Mr Thomas Spazier, Founding Chairman of the ABC Mr Peter Kastner, dear ABC members and Friends

The ABC is celebrating its 20th anniversary next year – and for those of you who did not attend our anniversary cocktails at the Saxon Hotel last month, here again for information the list of the first directors/board members appointed in the founding meeting 25 June 1996: Peter Kastner, Guenther Grumptmann, Gerhart Mischinger, Ursula Matras, Hans Schulter und Thomas Zilk. I am indeed proud to have been involved basically since the founding of our ABC and since this date member of the ABC board.

2016 was very busy year – we organized again for you, many events and at the same time the ABC continues to conduct close relations with the European Bilateral Chambers. We we have been active with contributions within the bilateral chambers network in SA and government agencies as well as with networking with important organisations and personalities.

The ABC has strong ties with the EU delegation in SA, and I am one of the 8 founding directors of the EU Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Southern Africa which is supported by the EU and of which the ABC is a member. I am representing the ABC in the EU Chamber board meetings and our first AGM will be end of June.
The ABC has close around 100 members and @ this stage I strongly encourage you as I do it every year to invite friends and business associates to join the ABC.

In the financial year ending Feb 2016 the ABC generated an income of 239.950.- out of member’s subscriptions and events, resulting in a net income of 7.828.- in comparison to 7.271,- (15), the retained income increased to 245.500,- from 237.722.-(15).
Please also check the copies of balance sheet and income statement distributed.

The ABC board conducted 11 board meetings and I would like to thank my board colleagues for their time, effort and valuable contribution (introduction of my board colleagues)
Christian Neuberger – Deputy Chairman
Johannes Brunner – Honorary Vice Chairman
Deon Hellberg – Finances
Ralph M Ertner
Paul Fried
Max J Hussmann
Richard H Leiter
Gerhart Mischinger
Last but not at all least – our very special Monika Kopp (ABC Administrator) who is on an overseas trip and has organized the final stages of this event and RSVPs and members’ communication from her laptop in Europe. Well done Monika.

We offered our members and friends during the last financial year many interesting events, all of them well attended except one. Our workshops/presentations combined with sundowners are indeed popular.

• 26th March 2015 – Offshore Investment workshop with Michael Hunzinger form Optimatrade – Radisson Blue Hotel
• 16th April 2015 – Werth Schroeder Property Workshop and Sundowners – The last man Standing in the Property Portfolio – Balalaika Htl
• 17.-19.April the networking weekend at Mziki Lodge
• 15th May 2015 – first ABC Golf Day at the JCC Woodmead
• 19th May 2015 – ABC Annual General Meeting with guest speaker Dr Mathew Phosa at the Radisson Blue Hotel
• 11th June 2015 – Dr. Martyn Davies, Frontier Advisory – workshop and sundowners – JCC Woodmead
• 30th July 2015 – Load shedding in SA workshop and Sundowners at Radisson Blue Hotel with presentations of Austrian managed companies Kijon Energy, Stored Energy Technology, SEG solar energy and New Way Power.
• 27th August 2015 – Dr. Jakkie Cilliers – Institute of Security Studies – Capital Empire Hotel
• 1st September 2015 – invitation by SANRAL BUSINESS BREAKFAST for ABC members at SA National Roads Agency with SANRAL CEO Mr Alli Nazir
• 30th September 2015 – Dr. Rob Davies , the SA Minister of Trade and Industry – business luncheon – Balalaika Hotel- a special thanks to our board member Richard Leiter without whom we would not have been able to present the minister to our members.
• 15th October 2015 – Security at Home – Codfather, Sandton with the Manager of national security o FAW, the head of crime intelligence and a representative of prison intelligence
• 5th November 2015 – Investment Workshop here and abroad – Capital Empire Hotel by Rene Schwab of IHAG Zurich bank and Dawie Roodt from Efficiency Group
• CHRISTMAS FUNCTION by our Trade Commissioner Johannes and a special thanks to his wife Franziska. Invitation only event.
• 19th January 2016 – welcome of EU Head of Delegation – His Excellency Ambassador Marcus Cornaro – Balalaika Hotel. Mr Cornario is a as most of you know a fellow Austrian
• 18th February 2016 – Roedl and Partner Workshop – Capital Gains tax and info on taxation on Pension income – Codfather , Sandton
• 3rd March 2016 – yearly budget presentation with our dear friend and supporter Dawie Roodt – should we stay or should we run? , Codfather , Sandton
• 20th April 2016 – 20th Anniversary Party at Saxon Hotel – if you have missed this event then I am sorry for you, the next time the ABC will invite you for free to the Saxon Hotel will be 2026. Again I want to thank the sponsors of this great event: Backaldrin, Richard Leiter personal capacity, Greiner Foam, Into SA Ralph Ertner, WerthSchroeder Kay Schroeder and Geecom our friend and fellow Raging Rhino biker Gustl Mischkulnig.
• Finally today the AGM followed by our Networking Event with our guest Mr David Makhura the Premier of Gauteng

Further worthwhile mentioning is that the ABC and some of its members featured prominently in the special supplement about AUSTRIA in the Financial Mail from October last year. This was initiated by our Ambassador and in co-op with Advantage Austria and the ABC.

At this stage I want to mention our new offer of Corporate Member offering up to 5 members the benefit of reduced rates at functions and added to mailing list.
Further benefits comprising:
Placing of promotional displays/banners /brochures & give-aways at every ABC function (except Golf Day), link on new ABC website. Imagine you could have been prominently present with your company at all of the above functions. And don’t forget the corporate membership is a tax-deductible business expense

The ABC Newsletters will be published end of May. Again I am bringing to your attention that members’ contribution with articles and newsworthy messages are not only welcome but I required.

As I am also a founding committee member of the in the mid 90es revived Austrian Club I would ask you to please support them as well and I encourage you to attend one of their functions. The club organises worth while charity events and contributions.

A quick preview of future events and activities:
• GM please introduce our activities around skills development, artisan training and internship
• MH please can you introduce the ABC Golf Day at the Houghton Golf Club 10th June 2016 – online booking tool

• 23rd June 2016 – next sundowners – this time more on the leisure side but very interesting – we are invited by Cruises International for drinks and snacks to their brand new ‘ship-shape” offices and for a presentation on cruising and cruise offers

As always my request to you, the members, to please contribute to the further development of the ABC by voicing your opinion, by telling us what you like and what not, by constructive criticism and let us know if you want to participate in organization of events.

In concluding I would like to thank Johannes Brunner, Thomas Spazier, Heike Berthold-Pollock (our previous administrator) and the whole Advantage Austria team for the excellent cooperation and I would like to thank all our members for your support of the Austrian Business Chamber. Big Thank You also to Ingrid Mischinger and my wife Geraldine for their great work today as “reception girls”

And in case I am reelected today as board member a personal word from me: Friends the ABC will be 21 next year and once a child is 21 and grown up its time to let go as one of the child’s fathers. In this spirit I would like to say that, it will be my last year in an ABC board function and then. I am looking forward to a 21st year with you and the Austrian Business Chamber.

Thomas Zilk

Past Events

Other 2016 Events included:

Sundowner to introduce the newly appointed Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union to South Africa, Mr Marcus Cornaro. We are very proud to mention that Mr Cornaro is also Austrian.

Sundowner and Tax Workshop with law firm Roedl and Partner. A very informative evening that not only gave us evidence of the in-depth legal and tax knowledge of our member firm Roedl and Partner, but based on the large attendance, clearly showed that tax compliance and how to manage our retirement affairs in an environment with an ever declining Rand, is close to everyone’s heart.

Budget Speech with renowned economist Dawie Roodt from the Efficient group under the interesting title:
Should we stay or should we run? A very, very scary world, and other scary stories
Dawie Roodt, Chief Economist of the Efficient Group, explained how we are working ourselves into a stupor with nothing really to show for it.
The last couple of years have been bleak, to say the least, and 2016 is setting up to be a record year, but not in a nice way;
inflation is forecasted to get out of hand and GDP growth could be non-existing!
The story goes much deeper than deficits, debt, and weak economic performance, but speaks to the very nature of our ideologically confused tripartite alliance. This is all tied up into our national budget; spending keeps soaring to keep the populous happy in the short term, and revenue continues to deteriorate as individuals and corporates stare another recession in the face.

Austrian Embassy News

Brigitte Oeppinger-Walchshofer

Dear readers,

Please feel invited to attend the “Rainbow Concert, performed by Diplomats and African Artists” that will be held on the 28th of May, at the Ennoch Sontonga Hall at Unisa’s Sunnyside Campus in Pretoria.

This charity concert that will benefit young township musicians to purchase musical instruments. A very diversified musical afternoon will be displayed by eight music groups from and around Pretoria and Johannesburg. Admission is free and booking essential at
Please join us!

The Premier of the Western Cape, Mrs. Helen ZILLE, will travel to Linz on 12 July to celebrate 20 years of successful regional cooperation with Oberösterreich.

We have also already started to plan activities for autumn and we await quite a number of delegations from Austria between September and November. The most prominent of those will be the visit of the Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs, Sebastian KURZ, who – together with WKO president Christoph LEITL – will lead a business delegation from Austria. They intend to arrive on 24 October and stay for the National Day Celebration at the Austrian residence in Pretoria. The Reception will therefore take place on 25 October, between 12.00 and 14.00 to enable the Minister and his delegation to celebrate with all of us.

Best regards
Brigitte Öppinger-Walchshofer

Ralph’s view of the World

Ralph Ertner – Into-SA

Economy Inches away from Junk Status
Credit Rating Agencies readying themselves for the Inevitable?

It is symptomatic for political statements these days that those judgingly pointing fingers at others are mostly the culprits and reason for South Africa’s precarious situation. The parliament is worse than the Muppet Show and the Chief Muppet holds the Speaker of the House responsible, while happily cackling when he kicks legislature and jurisprudence into their shins. But worse than the political circus is the economy. Thousands of affluent tax-payers leave for Mauritius and the inevitable is only a stone throw away as it appears to be just a matter of time before South Africa’s credit rating is cut to junk.Description: tandard & Poor'sS&P Global Ratings will lower the nation’s rating to non-investment grade by the end of this year, according to 12 of 13 economists and analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Four see the downgrade to BB+, which will put South Africa on par with Turkey and Indonesia, coming as early as next month. All 13 analysts predict Moody’s Investors Service, which rates the nation one level above S&P, will cut its assessment by December this year – only 7 months away!

“The concern is that we continue to have disappointing growth that ultimately adds to fiscal pressures,” Elna Moolman, an economist at Macquarie stated last week publicly. “As things stand now, I think they will downgrade us.” Both the National Treasury and South African Reserve Bank (SARB) forecast the economy will expand less than 0.5% this year as depressed commodity prices and low demand from major export markets weigh on output This is the slowest economic pace since 2009.

Slow Growth will reduce Tax Revenue
Lacklustre growth will limit tax revenue and make it more difficult for the Treasury to meet its target of reducing the budget deficit to 2.4% of gross domestic product in the year through March 2019, from 3.9% last year, and limit gross debt to about 50% of gross domestic product. Political upheaval, which has – especially in the wake of the recent ConCourt ruling – led to calls for President Jacob Zuma to resign, is compounding the economic risks. In December, Zuma replaced Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene with a little-known lawmaker, sending the rand and bonds plunging. In March, the nation’s top court found the president violated the constitution when he refused to abide by a directive from the graft ombudsman and last week the High Court in Pretoria ruled prosecutors erred when they dropped corruption charges against Zuma shortly before he became president in 2009.

Investors already consider SA risky
Investors already consider South Africa more risky than other junk-rated countries. The cost of insuring against a default by the government for five years using credit-default swaps is 38 basis points higher than for Russia, which is rated speculative grade by both S&P and Moody’s, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The only major emerging market with contracts more expensive than South Africa is Brazil, which is in the worst recession in a century and where President Dilma Rousseff is facing impeachment; but without the hope of having ignorant ANC members to rescue him.
Moody’s put South Africa’s credit rating on review for a downgrade in March because of a weaker growth and fiscal outlook. There is a “real possibility” that the nation’s debt assessment will be cut, S&P managing director for sub-Saharan Africa, Konrad Reuss, published last month. SARB admitted last week that there was a medium to high probability that South Africa’s debt will be downgraded to non-investment grade. That may lead to capital outflows, increase the cost of and access to funding and cause spreads on credit-default swaps to widen. The current infrastructure programm – especially in the energy and rail sectors – will come to an end as funding without international sources for a reasonable interest rate out of own revenue will become an impossibility. The only positive aspect of the downgrade is that debt-financing of the local budgets with international funds will become unlikely.

Political Infighting will thwart Efforts
The government must work with business and labour to avert a downgrade, said Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, who was reappointed to the post which he had held until 2014 after Zuma came under pressure from business and political leaders. “We remain confident that our fiscal targets for the period ahead will be met, yet it is clear that bold steps need to be taken to address structural barriers to faster growth,” Gordhan told lawmakers in Cape Town. It is obvious: Political infighting will stymie efforts to implement reforms, such as changes to labour laws, immigration regulations and local empowerment legislation (BEE), that are needed to reignite steady growth!
With growth slowing to a crawl of 0.5% this year and maybe slightly faster next year, debt will continue to rise, closing in on 60% of GDP. The ratings agencies simply cannot overlook the government’s inability to address the problem and the downgrade is more or less inevitable unless new leadership convinces them otherwise. But therefore the question remains: when will the Captain of the “MS South Africa” understand that the ship has stranded already and therefore the laws of the sea do not apply anymore? The Captain should leave bridge and ship first and should – under no circumstances – stay on board until everybody has left the ship ….

Member News

Live classical music at Glenshiel

Wine tasting courtesy of The Wine Guy

Schubert Winterreise

Book by email Info 0834140041

R220 pp

Refreshments & Snacks Included

Franz Schubert sat at his piano, sometime in October 1827, and spoke to his close friends. His words: “Come to Schober’s house today. I will sing a cycle of frightening songs”. And indeed, his friends were horrified. Yes, they did like ‘The Lindenbaum’, but the rest…Schubert’s answer: “I like these songs more than any of the others, and so will you.”
The Winterreise, set to poems by Wilhelm Müller, is among the most demanding musical works for singer and pianist. Painters, producers and filmmakers have been inspired by the songs to create art works which strive to express the emotions when listening to this monumental work. South African artist William Kentridge’s animation to the cycle is world famous.

Robert Brooks accompanied by Gisela de Villiers sings Franz Schubert’s famous Song Cycle “Die Winterreise”

Sunday 5th June 2016, 3.30 for 4 pm

Where: Glenshiel, 19 Woolstone Road Westcliffe, Johannesburg
Tickets: R220 (includes a glass of wine ….)
Book at
More Information +27 83 414 0041

Parking at The Ridge School
(gps co – ords S26* 10.28′, E28* 1.60′)

The proceeds from this concert will go towards the restoration of the piano at Glenshiel.


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• Statistical goods control
• Invoicing of receivables/ Debt collection
• HR – recruitment and administration
• Comprehensive payroll services
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In addition to our core competencies, we will gladly assist you in tailoring a customised solution to meet your business needs. This ranges from specialised insurance services, logistics consulting and risk management, to recruitment of specialist experts and management sources.
As a global service provider we offer an effective and efficient route to successful foreign market penetration. Our competent InterGest partners will assist you in over 50 countries worldwide, where a team of 750 employees currently provides consulting services to approximately 1,700 subsidiaries of international companies.
For more information, please contact Sarah Lyttwin at or +27 (0)11 – 476 1725

As of 1 May 2016 Unicredit has a new home. The new contact details are now :

Physical Address: (changed)

Suite 11 A, First Floor, Katherine & West
114 West Street
South Africa

Postal Address: (unchanged)

P O Box 1483
South Africa

Tel : +27 11 380 8090 (changed)
Email :

May we also welcome all new members that haven’t been specifically mentioned and we kindly urge you to provide us with a brief introduction to your companies so that we can list these in future editions of the newsletter

Member Specials

Mziki Safari Lodge
received a face lift of all rooms and public areas in the recent months. A new shop and conference room have been added to its facilities.Nestled beneath the shady Karees in the heart of Mziki Private Game Reserve, just two hours’ drive from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, Mziki Safari Lodge offers a natural, affordable haven for eco-travellers seeking an authentic, unaffected encounter with the African bush.Set on 12 500 acres of prime malaria-free bushveld, Mziki Private Game Reserve is home to three of the “Big Five, and over 50 species of mammals and 372 species of birds, making it one of the best birding areas in South Africa.Perfect for families with a range of engaging activities for children of all ages, Mziki Safari Lodge offers a genuine home-away-from-home, individualistic bush experience combined with charming South African hospitality.

Mziki Safari Lodge is yours to enjoy at your pace, a relaxed environment for both young and old, extending the true hand of friendship to all those who visit it.

Into SA
ABC Members enjoy a
10% discount on
Into SA Consulting Fees
.This includes the areas of Immigration, Company Incorporation, BEE Consulting, Tax Registrations and Legal Document Drafts.

Business Opportunities

Johannes Brunner – Advantage Austria

Dear ABC members:

Job Opportunity at the Austrian Trade Commission

Are you proficient in German and English? Do you have a keen interest in international trade and business development? There is an opportunity for a motivated self-starter to join our small team in Rosebank. For more information, please contact the Austrian Trade Commission on 011 442 7100 or

Advantage Austria
For information on Austrian companies looking for business partners in South Africa, please visit:

Future Events

We are looking forward to seeing you at one of the following exciting events:

28 May: 15.00h – Rainbow Concert
“Rainbow Concert, performed by Diplomats and African Artists” that will be held on the 28th of May, at the Ennoch Sontonga Hall at Unisa’s Sunnyside Campus in Pretoria.

05 June: 16.00h – Concert
Robert Brooks accompanied by Gisela de Villiers sings Franz Schubert’s famous Song Cycle “Die Winterreise”

Sunday 5th June 2016, 3.30 for 4 pm
Where: Glenshiel, 19 Woolstone Road Westcliffe, Johannesburg
Tickets: R220 (includes a glass of wine ….)
Book at

23 June: 18.00h – 20.00h – Sundowner
Join us for our next Sundowner at Cruises International, more details to follow

Important Contacts

Austrian Business Chamber in Southern Africa:
Phone no: + 27 (0) 72 919 4418 Fax No: +27 (0) 86 685 5120 Embassy – PTA: Tel (012) 452-9155 Fax (012) 460-1151Austrian Consulate – JHB: Tel 011 462 2334 Fax (011) 447-6191Austrian Consulate – CPT: Tel (021) 421-1440/1 Fax (021) 425-3489

Austrian Trade Commission: Tel (011) 442-7100 Fax (011) 442-8304

Austrian Business Club in Zimbabwe (ABCZ): Tel 00263 -773 -937115/ Email: (President: Karl Markhardt)

The ABC thanks our Platinum Sponsors, without their help most of the functions and workshops would not be possible. If you would like to become a Sponsor as well, please contact ABC Sponsorship!

The current Platinum Sponsors are:

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All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:


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