The Slovenia Times

Cimos sold to Italian investment holding Palladio Finanziaria


The transaction is to be completed in the first quarter of 2017 pending regulatory approval, the Bank Asset Management Company (BAMC) said.

The buyer is TCH Cogeme, a company owned by Palladio Finanziaria, which signed the contract with BAMC and the Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH), the leads of the consortium that has sold the stake.

While the details of the deal have not been officially announced, several media have reported the transaction involves a purchase consideration of only EUR 100,000, with debt repayment accounting for the remainder of the sum.

TCH Cogeme has announced it would additionally recapitalise Cimos, which is based in Koper, with EUR 20m after the completion of the deal to accelerate the planned investments and conclude the ongoing restructuring process.

"We will do our best to gain as soon as possible new orders for Cimos...The existing key customers of Cimos are also willing to support us," the chief executive of TCH Cogeme, Gino Berti, was quoted as saying in a BAMC press release.

SSH chief executive said the buyers had "managed to find a strategic partner who will support Cimos Group, has long-term plans and has in the past successfully restructured several companies both in the automotive sector and in other industries".

The long-term prospects of Cimos were also highlighted by BAMC chief executive Imre Balogh, who said that the deal was crucial for Cimos in that it supported its future growth.

"Under the new owner, Cimos will return to be an important player in the automotive components industry, which will provide beneficial long-term effects for the Slovenian economy," he said.

Aside from regulatory approval, the deal is also conditional on agreement with the Croatian state agency for deposit insurance and bank resolution related to Cimos's outstanding debt to a Croatian bank, which the company is contesting in court.

The deal, which completes a privatisation procedure launched in August 2015, marks the end of years of uncertainty for the company, which is a key employer in western Slovenia and one of the most valuable assets on the books of BAMC, the Slovenian bad bank.

The sellers - the bad bank, SSH, and several banks - built up their holding in Cimos after a EUR 168m debt-to-equity conversion in 2014, when Cimos was on the verge of going belly-up due to mounting debt and insolvency.

They debt-to-equity conversion was a part of a debt restructuring procedure triggered in May 2014, which was needed despite Cimos having received a EUR 35m capital injection a year earlier.

The privatisation is merely the last chapter in Cimos's long and turbulent history, which has reflected the ups and downs of the global economy.

It grew out of a cooperation agreement between Tomos, a maker of scooters, and French car maker Citroen signed in 1959 that launched the production of Cimos components in Koper.

The company was formally incorporated in 1972 and initially supplied parts, but eventually grew into an assembly plant for Citroen's legendary models 2CV 6, Ami and GS.

In the aftermath of the 1970s oil crisis, car assembly was discontinued and Cimos was once again relegated to producing parts for Citroen. By the end of the 1980s it had expanded cooperation with car makers including BMW, PSA and Ford.

The decade following the mid-1990s saw rapid expansion, with Cimos buying up several firms in the former Yugoslavia as well as Litostroj Power, a maker of hydro turbines, in 2001.

Its fortunes took a turn for the worse with the onset of the financial and economic crisis in 2008, triggering the period of offloading of foreign subsidiaries and debt restructuring that has led to its sale.

As of the end of 2015 Cimos had a global workforce of just under 5,000, down from 6,221 in the year before. The Slovenian parent company employed around 1,800.

The workers welcomed the agreement today, with the chair of the works council, Trajko Isovski, telling the STA that the most difficult step had now been made. "We are very satisfied we got a new owner," he said.


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