The Slovenia Times

FinMin to seek postponing NLB sale in Brussels next week


Slovenia committed to privatise the bank in 2013 in exchange for the European Commission approving state aid for NLB, but the government suspended a two-phase privatisation plan in early June over concerns the sale would not fetch a desired sum.

The Finance Ministry engaged with the Commission to look for possible alternative scenarios. Reviewing the ministry's report today, the government took a position that Slovenia wanted to implement remaining compensation measures in a way that would not harm Slovenian taxpayers and be in compliance with EU state aid rules.

According to a press release from the ministry, the government believes that the most appropriate step would be to postpone the privatisation and during this time address the issue of Croatian lawsuits over Yugoslav-era savings deposits, which "seriously hampers the implementation of an economically viable privatisation process".

The government also holds that the issue of Croatian savings deposits cannot be tackled through unilateral measures but only at the inter-governmental level, so it plans to step up efforts in that direction.

The government says that in looking for solutions with the Commission "the fact should be taken into account that Slovenian taxpayers fully covered the cost of the state aid for the bank in late 2013".

The government can thus not accept proposals that would impose an additional financial burden on the taxpayer, be it through a lower purchase money for NLB as a result of the risks related to Croatian savings deposits, or the impact on the value due to the NLB Group being scaled down.

In light of the possibility that the Commission demanded the sale of the bank's subsidiaries in the former Yugoslavia, the government holds that the goal is to preserve NLB as a powerful regional group.

The meeting with the commissioner next week is designed to review the activities implemented with respect to Slovenia's commitments at the level between Slovenian Finance Ministry officials and Commission services to "establish the progress made and agree on further activities".

Despite intensive talks and working meetings since June and despite constructive approach by both sides, the ministry finds that progress has been "slow".


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