Greek News 'Depressing' but Not Scary: SAP Exec

Talk about a possible default by Greece has caused some concern for SAP in Central and Eastern Europe but it is not changing the company's plans, Manfred Joseph, managing director at SAP CEE, told on Wednesday.

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CEE was hit hard by the ripple effects of the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the financial crisis that followed, with businesses closing down and foreign investors pulling their money out, but has since managed to rebound after profound and painful restructuring. SAP had its best quarter ever in the region, Joseph said.

But some analysts say a default by Greece would hit countries in the region again as Athens-based companies have expanded to Eastern Europe and the Balkans and investors would flee again from places perceived as risky.

"Obviously it is pretty depressing to read all of this but my view has been that evolutions that are too advertised typically don’t' happen," Joseph said in an interview on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on Europe and Central Asia in Vienna.

"I am fully aware that if something happens it will have an effect on us. But if I am getting distracted by this I don't think I'd be giving good service to my company," Joseph added.

"The glass is half full in CEE," he said, adding that a Greek default "would have an impact" but the region will be able to withstand it as the business climate is good and there are "lots of opportunities" there.

After the collapse of Lehman Brothers, growth in the region lasted for another six months and only then things got really tough, he said. "It happened mid-year for us. Our planning for 2010 was a bit more cautious."

For SAP in Central and Eastern Europe, "business is doing extremely well," he said.

"We are investing a lot in growth right now, hiring, investing in new technologies," Joseph added, saying that growth targets for this year are "in the significant double digits."