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Business news, 10.03.2006 12:20

American Giants Look For Place in City Zones

economic_zones Two giants of the IT industry, U.S. firms Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems, are considering registering in the city’s special economic zones, Interfax quoted a statement from the city governor as saying on Monday.

“These companies have expressed lots of interest in St. Petersburg’s special economic zones. Sun Microsystems already operates in the city and sees the zone as an opportunity for further development,” Valentina Matviyenko said at a press conference to announce the results of her official visit to the United States.

Within a month City Hall will complete negotiations with Hewlett-Packard over the details of possible cooperation, Matviyenko said. According to vice Governor Mikhail Oseyevsky, during the visit they also held negotiations with software development firms and companies producing technical equipment.

“I think that within the next month we’ll be able to reveal those companies wanting to apply for a place in the zone,” Oseyevsky said.

Even regardless of the zone initiative, Siemens, Alcatel, Sun Microsystems and Motorola have already established R&D offices in the city.

Anna Barsky, director of Sun Microsystems High Technologies Center in St. Petersburg, confirmed that during her visit to California Valentina Matviyenko met with Jeff Jackson from Sun Microsystems.

“One of the questions discussed concerned the Sun Microsystems development center in St. Petersburg and the possibility of including it in the state techno-park program,” Barsky said.

The Sun Microsystems center was opened in June 2004. At the moment it employs 330 people.

“Sun Microsystems plans to continue its investment in the Center,” Barsky said. Nevertheless, Victor Naumov, Head of Intellectual Property and Information Technology Protection Group at DLA Piper in St. Petersburg, warned against getting too carried away by the presence of foreign R&D in the city.

Naumov indicated some of the advantages of St. Petersburg’s zones, in particular its scientific potential, trained personnel and the technical institutes for IT specialists and engineers. He also mentioned tax concessions and preferential customs fees, as well as investment-friendly laws.

“The northern capital is culturally similar to Europe, an important consideration for business, and is favorably located in terms of transport,” he said.

However, in the long run “without state support of training programs, without restoring traditions in science and engineering, without clear and economically-balanced federal legislation concerning taxes, intellectual property protection and IT, we could fail to maintain the interest Russian and foreign companies have shown in the city,” he said.

In this case “St. Petersburg would only benefit in part from the unique macroeconomic interest we see at the moment,” Naumov said.

By Yekaterina Dranitsyna

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