Traditionally Portugal’s IT and telecoms market has been a difficult one to crack for foreign investors – as regulators are not very active in enforcing regulations – but the country is becoming more competitive, according to Ricardo Henriques, a partner at law firm PBBR in Lisbon.
The slow response to data protection problems by regulators has posed challenges for investors – and led to litigation in cases that take a long time to resolve in court – as well as being an administrative burden.
But Portugal remains a target for telecoms companies, which see the country as a competitive market with more and more players vying for customers. “There have been some very interesting offers,” says Henriques. “Netflix is coming to Portugal and a local carrier is launching a competing product, so the market is very active as companies try to keep up with one another, and that brings more choice for consumers and more competitive prices,” he adds.
Henriques foresees the interest among foreign investors continuing, as he believes the IT sector has so far been immune to downturns, being relatively new and therefore investor interest is maintained. “People want to experiment in this market and with the growth in the sale of smartphones – and now also wearables entering the market – there are now more customers accessing a wide range of online businesses.”
Henriques says such trends will bring new challenges for service providers in terms of having to offer new types of platforms to enhance user experience while ensuring their data privacy, particularly in relation to online sales. Investor interest remains highest among Silicon Valley firms, as well as some local start-ups.