The Slovenia Times

Another transition story ends with Merkur sale

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The deal that is expected to be formally concluded this week is unofficially worth just under EUR 100m. Given the lack of strong domestic investors, there is no other option but another part of Slovenia's assets going into the hands of a foreign owner.

Merkur was at the apex of its power in 2008, generating with its with five thousand employees around EUR 1.3bn in annual sales, which would today put it among the largest companies in the country.

It used to generate almost a quarter of its sales outside Slovenia, in the former Yugoslav republics, where its subsidiaries have more or less ended their operation.

A large debt stemming from the expansion period when it was headed by Bine Korde┼ż and the failed attempt at an MBO brought Merkur to its knees. The numbers are now completely different, with the company expected to generate less than EUR 200m in revenue this year.

To help us answer the question whether Slovenia exits the latest story of its transition as a winner or loser, here is a fact - recognisable brands have lately been acquired by foreign investors, with many of them coming from the neighbouring Croatia.

While it is not easy to reconcile with the one-way flow of investments, it is even harder to accept the fact that the money from the sale of strategic stakes in companies has failed to be invested in something that would promise a better future, concludes the commentary entitled "End of a Transition Story".

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