The Slovenia Times

An Increasingly Important Role in SE Europe



One of the major goals of every Slovenian bank with ambitions of succeeding in foreign markets, is to expand their financial services into the countries of SE Europe. The largest Slovenian international financial group, the NLB Group, is no exception. In Croatia, BiH, Montenegro, Serbia, Bulgaria and Macedonia, the group continues to operate under the banner of Ljubljanska Banka, its predecessor in the Yugoslav era. Apart from basic banking services, they also offer leasing, supplementary sickness insurance and brokerage services and are planning to introduce insurance and investment services in the near future. Another recognised Slovenian bank operating in SE Europe is Abanka Vipa, which is one of the top three banks in Slovenia and is strengthening its position in these markets with an aggressive marketing campaign. According to a bank representative, Abanka intends to firmly establish itself throughout SE Europe within the next few years by establishing subsidiary companies and branch offices, especially within the countries of the former Yugoslavia. Abanka Vipa offers basic services, such as payment transactions and transfers, as well as advanced services such as loans and investment products. NKBM is another Slovenian bank making its presence felt in SE Europe. Through direct capital investment, the bank has established Multiconsult and Multiconsult Leasing in Croatia as well as a number of other concerns throughout the region. In 2006, NKBM invested EUR 67.2 m in SE Europe and EUR 43.8 m the previous year. Wide range of products and services Abanka's SE European operations also include a corporate services division that works closely with the Slovenian Export Corporation (SEC) in major investment projects. Other Slovenian banks offer a variety of such services as well. By adapting to the local environment, they are able to offer various financial solutions for Slovenian exporters and investors. NLB provides services to enterprises ranging in size from small family concerns to large multinationals and has built up strong relationships with both Slovenian and foreign enterprises. The fact that NLB enjoys the highest credit ratings in Central Europe speaks for itself. Apart from being a source of financing, NKBM also offers corporate services ranging from simply connecting potential business partners to detailed market analyses. The PBS bank also offers a variety of services to Slovenian enterprises operating in the region ranging from providing loans to investment advisory services. The bank provides favourable long- and short-term financing in cooperation with SEC and, as the level of investment risk in this region is considered to be slightly higher than average, the bank places a lot of emphasis on insurance and risk assessment. Slovenia's fourth largest bank, SKB, is a member of the Societe Generale group (SG) and plays an important role in SG's rapid financial growth in SE Europe. SG is a significant entity in the region and owns the third largest bank in the Czech Republic and the fourth largest banks in Romania and Croatia. Removing the risk Bank Austria Creditanstalt Ljubljana (BA-CA Ljubljana), part of the UniCredit Group, is another bank offering products and services to clients expanding their activities into SE Europe. BA-CA Ljubljana helps Slovenian companies establish banking relationships in their target market by introducing them to other banks in the Unicredit family. Unicredit is present in virtually every country in the region and is the leading bank in Croatia, Bosnia and Bulgaria. "Due to competition in the market, exporters might be asked by their clients to provide them with a financing offer. In such cases, our bank offers products such as buyer's credit, bank-to-bank credit or post-financing letters of credit. These are tied to the commercial contract which enables the exporter to provide an attractive package to their client. If Slovenian companies wish to do business with a specific buyer, but do not want to become too exposed to the client's financial position, or, alternatively, are under pressure to offer better payment terms, they can sell the receivables to our bank. Such receivables can either be secured with a bank guarantee and a letter of credit, or unsecured. For companies, responding to tenders in SE Europe, we can issue direct or indirect tender guarantees. The presence of our banking group in SE Europe, as well as our extensive banking network, helps us to assess the risks for companies and banks in the region," said Hedvika Usenik, the head of the bank's commercial financing department.


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