Throughout history, Europe has grown together step by step, enabled in part by investments from visionary and entrepreneurial private investors – what is today referred to as private equity.

Railways and bridges are perhaps the most visible sign of this. During the Viennese Congress, old plans were revived to connect the Danube and Vltava, in order to ease trade between the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea. Franz I, Emperor of Austria, entrusted Franz von Gerstner with the huge project of building this rail link. This ambitious project was funded by three Viennese wholesalers, who established Austria’s first private railway company in 1832.

Again, it was private investors under the auspices of the Austrian Emperor Ferdinand I who raised 27.5 million florins in less than a month to fund another unprecedented railway project: the Kaiser Ferdinand Nordbahn, measuring 455 km and stretching from Vienna to Bochnia, which, when it opened in 1839, by far exceeded any distance that had been achieved up until that time. It could carry 80,000 people a year, plus 114,000 tons of freight, mostly wood, steel, coal, cereal, salt and tobacco.

Nowadays, the German-speaking countries are the strongest promoters of European integration. They provide most of the foreign direct investment in Eastern Europe, and Austrian and German companies strike the most deals in Eastern Europe, leveraging these historical, geographical and cultural ties.

ARALON is continuing this long tradition of building bridges and fostering the growth and integration of Europe through investments in Eastern European countries.