The Slovenia Times

Official says EBRD interested in investing in tourism, finance


The EBRD is already active in the Slovenian banking sector with investments, and it expects the privatisation and consolidation of the sector to continue, the first vice president of the London-based bank has told the newspaper in an interview.

The bank, which has minority stakes in the two largest Slovenian banks, NLB and NKBM, always tries to be a supplementary investor, providing private investors with the feeling of security as a minority shareholder, Rigterink said.

According to him, a well-functioning banking sector is high on the bank's list of priorities, and the health of NLB remains key for the overall health of the Slovenian economy, as the bank's strength indirectly strengthens the economy.

While the EBRD has no plans to increase its stake in NKBM, Rigterink thinks that the state has a somewhat too large stake in Petrol (just under a third), and that it would be better that the energy company is in private ownership.

The bank would be interested in privatisation of Petrol if the procedure is "very transparent", he said, adding that the EBRD was also interested in other sectors, including tourism, where he believes the state is excessively present.

The bank could also participate in the project to build a new rail line for the port of Koper, but this depends on how much commercial banks and private investors will chip in.

If they provide enough funds, the EBRD will not participate, but this means that if there is a gap in funding, the bank will step in with a significant investments in the form of a loan, Rigterink said.

He believes that Slovenia should be satisfied with its current GDP growth rate, but there are fields with some obstacles to further growth. These include tax rates, a high rate of regulation and administration, and labour legislation.

Companies are deleveraging, which is good, but one of the results are potentially lower investments in certain fields, for instance tourism. The state retains a major role in the economy, and one of the faults is also an underdeveloped capital market, he concluded.


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