November 2, 2016
Dagens Industri, a large daily financial newspaper in Sweden, called on Nexsen Pruet attorney Sara Svedberg for insight into some of the important considerations for industry looking to move operations to the United States from Sweden and elsewhere. Sara was interviewed last month while in Gothenburg, Sweden, meeting with companies in the auto industry, and the article published October 31 highlighted the importance of getting legal services early on and of having fellow countrymen in place in the United States to bridge cultural differences.
(Translation by Svedberg).
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"Moving with the Customer Requires Preliminary Work"
October 31, 2016
When major customers are moving out into the world, they often want to suppliers to come too. However, there are many pitfalls along the way.
"We are working with a dozen or so that have expressed serious interest," said business attorneys Sara Svedberg and Kristina Lillieneke who help companies interested in following Volvo Cars to the United States.
When Volvo Cars last year decided to build its first U.S. factory, the choice was to build in Charleston, South Carolina. In the state, there is already a large automotive cluster, including Mercedes and BMW.
"The authorities are very keen to get foreign companies to the state. It is easy to get in touch with the right person, " said Kristina Lillieneke.
She works from Gothenburg, Sweden, in her own company Blackbird Law where she does missions for the U.S. law firm Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd. Sara Svedberg works in South Carolina for the law firm Nexsen Pruet.
"To establish a business in the United States can feel a bit intimidating with everything you hear about how easy it is to get sued,” said Sara Svedberg. “My advice is to be well versed in employment law issues. For instance, a job interview cannot be conducted in the same manner as in Sweden. You may not ask a lot of things about a prospective employee’s private life, even whether he or she is married, in some instances, as it may be discriminatory."
Knowing the system also can provide economic benefits. “For example, you can negotiate to pay a special fee instead of property taxes, and, the bigger you are, the more favorable terms you can get,” explained Kristina Lillieneke.
Stefan Ottosson, president of auto supplier Gnotec, came along on FKG’s trip to the United States last winter to learn more.
"We came with Volvo Cars to China, and, when they decided to move to the United States, it moved up on our priority list," he said.
Martin Kaspar, who is in business development at German auto supplier Fränkische Industrial Pipes, with operations in, among other places, Germany, Mexico, USA, Morocco, and Tunisia, highlights how important it is to get help from a fellow countryman in place in the country to understand the cultural differences.
"As in Mexico, there, the company must choose a union, otherwise you risk getting one that you do not want. The Mexicans may not even tell you about it because it's so obvious, but a German raises the issue because it is so odd,” he said.
Magnus Runnbeck, senior analyst at Business Sweden, notes that many businesses establish themselves abroad to have production close to the market. Today, it is less about moving out because of wages.
“Companies are more likely today to scale up in Sweden rather than abroad,” he said.
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KNOW THE CODES. Sara Svedberg (left) and Kristina Lillieneke (right) are business lawyers who work for U.S. law firms and help Swedish companies to establish themselves in South Carolina, USA.
Sara Svedberg, an employment and labor law attorney at Nexsen Pruet in Columbia, was named "Legal Elite of the Midlands" for International Law in 2016. She can be reached at (803) 540-2156 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.