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Hewlett-Packard Co has established subsidiaries in three east European countries and is to set up an assembly plant in central Europe during the next five years, Yves Couillard, group director for central Europe told the press in Paris last week. For the moment, the company is counting its options and searching out the most suitable country for the project. Hewlett-Packard reckons a central European factory could create a surge in sales in eastern Europe where, to date, the company’s investment – totalling several millions of dollars a year – has been solely on a commercial basis. Despite a 20% growth in 1989 and 30% in 1990, east European sales outside the Soviet Union are not what they could be – only $32m was generated from east European countries outside the Soviet Union in 1990, contrasting with $800m in France alone. In 1991, Hewlett-Packard expects a growth of at least 50% from eastern Europe as a whole, says Couillard. In Poland, sales during the first five months of the current financial year have already exceeded full-year targets. Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary are the three east European countries which Hewlett-Packard has singled out as representing the best growth potential. In Poland and Czechoslovakia, where the company has had representation for several years, Hewlett-Packard has now opened 100%-owned subsidiaries. In Hungary, where the company is less well represented, Hewlett-Packard has turned to a local privately-owned company the second largest computer distributor in the country – to create a subsidiary in which it has a 35% stake. In Romania, Bulgaria and Albania, not as far ahead along the road to liberalisation, Hewlett-Packard is represented only through distribution agreements with local companies. Although these countries will be nigh on impossible to crack, Couillard is optimistic about Hewlett-Packard’s chances of evolution in central Europe – the company hopes that the whole of central Europe, including the Soviet Union, will in five years’ time represent between 3% and 5% of total Europe revenues – up from the current 1%.

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