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Country experience:  Austria

15.24.        The two major sources of inward FATS statistics in Austria are the comprehensive structural business statistics (SBS) that Statistics Austria collects and the direct investment survey that Oesterreichische Nationalbank (OeNB) conducts. Foreign-controlled enterprises are a subset of direct investment enterprises, which also include minority holdings above a 10 per cent  threshold and below the 50 per cent majority holding level. The fact that OeNB has, for many years, compiled direct investment information on a per-enterprise basis and has included a question on the  UCI in its survey allows OeNB to analyze multiple minority ownership structures and to establish the country in which the ultimate parent is located, as required for FATS statistics.

15.25.        As OeNB direct investment survey includes only enterprises above a certain threshold, instances of foreign-controlled ownership below the threshold need to be identified for the inward FATS statistics in a second step. That is done by an automated analysis of the administrative company register data. However, the information available does not allow for determining whether the corporate headquarters of such generally small enterprises are located in a third country; therefore the country in which the institutional unit exercising immediate control is located is, by default, considered the country of ultimate control.

15.26.        In a third step, the enterprises under direct foreign control, determined on the basis of OeNB surveys and information technology-based analyses of company register data, are checked for any first- and second-tier affiliates they may have in Austria. To that end, an algorithm is applied to company register data to establish, in a step-by-step procedure, all majority holdings in Austria of the enterprises identified thus far. The process described above enables OeNB to submit an exhaustive list of all resident foreign-controlled enterprises to Statistics Austria.

15.27.        Statistics Austria’s first task is to link the OeNB list of enterprises with the entries in its own business register. This is feasible using three common identifiers, namely the OeNB internal key, the national statistics institute unit identifier and the official company code that is stored in the public company register. Those identifiers are available in both databases, thanks to a long standing practice of the mutual exchange of register information (including name, address and economic activity of the unit). Usually 100 per cent of the units can be matched automatically, without any manual intervention. Next, Statistics Austria checks the data once more, thereby eliminating inactive business units from the OeNB list. Such inactive units may appear if they have not yet started economic activity or if enterprises are being liquidated. In some cases, control relationship may be unclear, e.g. where a change of ownership occurs during the reference year, and may be corrected at that point in time.

15.28.        The most important step is then to retrieve the required characteristics for inward FATS from the existing database for SBS. The values in that database may be either a direct result from the SBS survey, if the enterprise in question was part of the sample. Alternately, they may be imputed data, based on regressions, with employment and turnover as exogenous variables, if the relevant enterprise was not part of the sample. In any case, the data used for reporting inward FATS statistics are exactly the same as for SBS statistics, which is an important aspect of quality. Every second year, the data is supplemented by information about the research and development activities of foreign affiliates in Austria. The research and development characteristics of foreign affiliates are to be derived from the available research and development statistics by linking data sets at the individual enterprise level.


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