The Slovenia Times

NLB supervisory board overhauled as five new members appointed


Three of the new supervisors - Anton Ribnikar, Anton Macuh and Janko Gedrih - have previously held senior positions at Slovenia's largest bank.

Primož Karpe is the boss of the Zagreb-based private equity fund Blue Sea Capital and has previously worked at several Slovenian banks.

Laszlo Urban from Hungary has held senior positions at several Hungarian banks and was until 2011 a member of the supervisory board of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

SSH was originally expected to dismiss three supervisors and appoint five, but opted to let one more than initially planned stay on.

The bank's supervisory board now has nine members, having been expanded by two at today's shareholder meeting; Tit Andrej Erker, Uroš Ivanc, Sergeja Slapničar and Andreas Klingen are staying on.

SSH chairman Marko Jazbec told the press NLB was embarking on a demanding privatisation procedure, hence the decision to let the four members stay on.

He said the new supervisory board was "balanced": two members have previous experience as bank supervisors, two have careers in banking law, two are "renowned foreigners with strong international credentials" and two successful Slovenians.

The appointments cap a thorough overhaul at the bank following the resignation last week of CEO Janko Medja.

Media reports suggest Medja would probably have been sacked by the new supervisors anyway, which SSH chairman Marko Jazbec indirectly confirmed today.

Jazbec said Medja had "taken the pressure off today's proceedings" by stepping down himself, noting that the SSH board had unanimously doubted Medja's integrity and him putting the interests of the bank first.

SSH was expected to issue a no-confidence vote to Medja, which Medja precluded by stepping down. Jazbec said the intention was nevertheless "a strong signal to the supervisory board that governance changes are needed."

Jazbec expects that the supervisory board will now issue an international call for applications for the CEO position. He did not specify whether he expected other board members to be replaced as well.

The appointments have been met with sharp criticism centering on the fact that several old NLB hands have made a return, which is seen as a continuation of the nepotistic ties that led to the late-2013 bailout.

Ribnikar, who has long-standing ties with the bank and held a senior position at the time when it incurred non-performing loans, has come in particularly sharp focus.

Finance, the business daily, headlined its online report "Welcome to the 80s: 'Our people' take over NLB." Slovenske novice, the country's top circulation tabloid, said Ribnikar had "helped dig the bank hole".

The opposition New Slovenia (NSi) also weighed in. The party demands that SSH publicly present documents proving the case for the overhaul, which deputy group leader Jožef Horvat said was "legitimate but not transparent".

Under plans cleared by the European Commission, Slovenia has to privatise NLB by the end of 2017. The current government plan involves an initial public offering whereby the state would retain a controlling stake.

Jazbec said a financial advisor would be picked soon and would help decide the best privatisation model. In the event a new model is selected, it will be put to parliament, presumably by the end of May.


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