The Slovenia Times

Privatising Power



Economics Minister Andrej Vizjak claims they don't want to privatise a monopoly. According to him, the privatisation strategy envisages that there are at least two power producers on the Slovenian market: apart from HSE, the company Gen energija would be the second power producer in the country. The key goals of the privatisation are to develop companies that would be able to compete in the region and Europe as a whole, Vizjak explained. This would be achieved by obtaining increased efficiency of operations through active involvement of private owners as well as investment in new production sources that would ensure stable energy supply for the future that would be environmentally-friendly and reduce Slovenia's dependence on foreign energy sources. The pre-privatisation stage envisages a shake-up of HSE and the bolstering of Gen energija, which currently owns the Slovenian half of the Krsko Nuclear Power Plant (the other half is in Croatian hands). The former, which is by far the biggest energy producer in the country, would relinquish its hold on the Brestanica thermal power plant and the hydro plants on the Sava, which would be transfered to Gen energija, while remaining the owner of hydro plants on the Drava and Soca rivers, the Sostanj and Trbovlje thermal power plants and the Velenje coal mine. By setting up a system of two energy producers - which is to be completed by the end of this year - customers will be given a choice of supplier, which should prove an incentive for the two companies to step up efficiency of operations, Vizjak said. However, only HSE is to be privatised in the end, as the state cannot sell Gen energija because of the stake it holds in the Krsko N-plant. The privatisation is to begin next year, with HSE expected to be listed on the stock exchange in the middle of the year, while a strategic partner could be chosen by the beginning of 2008, Vizjak said. The sale of HSE would be a two-step process, with the state reducing its stake to 51% from the 100% it currently holds as part of the first phase. As part of the initial phase, 26% would be sold to a key investor, with the rest earmarked to be sold to individuals in Slovenia and institutional investors. Meanwhile, the second phase is scheduled to take place three to five years after the first phase. According to Vizjak, the government would decide on the second phase after an analysis on the effects of the first phase. "The second phase envisages the sale of additional shares to the key investors as well as individuals and portfolio investors," said Vizjak, adding that the state would keep a 26% controlling stake. "The worst thing to do right now would be to rush and sell off the energy sector, a key area for the competitiveness of the Slovenian economy," he added.


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