The Slovenia Times

Ending the Chaotic Management of State Capital


The head of financial group Alta, Ales Skerlak, told the debate, hosted by stock exchange operator Ljubljanska borza, that the time had come to reflect again on how to lure foreign investors to Slovenia and on which strategic companies should remain in at least partial state ownership.

Arguing that more damage than good had been done to capital owned by the state in the past, Peter Groznik of the Ljubljana Economics faculty agreed, but added that Slovenia's national interest really lied in dispersing ownership.

Unicredit Bank boss France Arhar noted that when discussing privatisation in Slovenia, "we think of tycoons when a possible domestic candidate for ownership is mentioned, thinking about foreigners inspires fear, while state-ownership sees us all wanting to make decisions, irrespective of whether we know anything or not".

Marko Golob of the Capital Assets Management Agency (AUKN), the custodian of state-owned shares in companies, said that debates were too focused on ownership, while forgetting to define what the objectives really are.

Andrej Vizjak, a partner for PriceWaterhouseCoopers, proposed that a controlling stake would be sufficient and enable a gradual transition, which earned a protest by Groznic, who believes that the goal should not be preserving the control of politics.

Golob added that a proposal on what to sell would have to come fast and would probably also include "one of the sacred cows of the Slovenian economy".

Arhar meanwhile pointed to the need for additional financial sources, regretting what he sees a lack of trust in Slovenia on the part of foreign investors who see the failure to observe contracts, which is becoming ever more widespread, as an operative risk.

Participants agreed that independence from changes in power needs to be secured for the central body managing state capital. It is presently not clear who is deciding, since companies are accountable to the prime minister, to ministries as well as to AUKN.


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