The Slovenia Times

From Retail to Riches



Sandi Česko, who has made his fortune through the Studio Moderna group of home shopping companies, has dethroned retail magnate Mirko Tuš as the richest Slovenian. The latest annual wealth survey published by Manager magazine shows Češko more than doubled his fortune to an estimated EUR 205m to climb up from fourth to first spot. He replaces Tuš, worth EUR 100m, who had topped the list of the 100 Richest Slovenians since its first release in 2007. Tuš has now taken Češko's old spot of fourth place.
Češko's success is especially impressive considering that most Slovenian companies are struggling to find extra finance. Yet Studio Moderna has an array of investors wanting to purchase a stake in the company. It is expanding fast and has attracted foreign investors such as JH Partners, Templeton, Insight Partners and General Atlantic, which paid EUR 25m for a 10 percent stake in the company.
Last year, the firm's revenues increased by 30 percent, to EUR 325m, while this year the company expects to increase them further to EUR 390m.


Second on the list remains Igor Lah, who made money on privatisation vouchers during Slovenia's transition to market economy. His wealth is estimated at EUR 129.4m.
Yet about one fourth of those on this year's list are newcomers, while seven made their way back after dropping out. In total, 12 couples found their place on the 100 richest Slovenians list. The top five alone includes two newcomers, both couples. Albin and Tatjana Doberšek in third place set up an engineering company in Germany in the early 1980s. Engineering Dobersek was recognised by the analysts at Manager because of its involvement in the construction of a new generator at the Šoštanj coal-fired power plant TES. The Doberšeks' fortune is estimated at EUR 119m.
Samo and Iza Login, in fifth spot, made a fortune worth around EUR 80m through the IT company Outfit7. The firm is the creator of Talking Tom Cat and other Talking Friends applications - some of the bestselling iPhone and iPad apps in the world. According to Manager, Outfit7 phone and tablet applications were downloaded by more than 150 million users between July 2010 and July 2011.

Fast entry

Standing out thanks to the speed with which he increased his wealth is Uroš Merc from the photovoltaic modules producer Bisol. It has taken Merc just four years to make it to the list. Bisol also has subsidiaries in Belgium, France, Germany, United Kingdom and recently Italy. Last year, the company's revenues increased by more than 100 percent, to approximately EUR 60m, and the net profit increased five-fold to EUR 3.6m. Merc is not the only Bisol owner on the list - Marko Poličnik, who owns a third of the company, is also on the list at 50th place.
Some have fought hard to make it on to the list. Just two years ago Robert Grah, chief executive and majority owner of SG Automotive, was forced to reduce staff numbers. But according to Manager magazine he managed to overcome the crisis because he knew how to find new opportunities. The company developed its own street lights, based on LED technology. Grah stands out not only because he is opening up production in countries with cheaper labour, but also in France and the USA.
From a peak in 2008, when the total wealth of the 100 richest Slovenians amounted to EUR 4 billion, this year the figure dropped to EUR 2.5 billion. Although the combined wealth of the 100 richest remains at about the same level as last year there are more of those whose assets shrunk, newcomers excluded. Many of those who dropped out of the list are owners of construction companies, including Ivan Zidar of SCT. The list also includes two mayors: Ljubljana's Zoran Janković with his sons, and Miran Vuk of Zavrc. Ivo Boscarol, the owner of plane maker Pipistrel, did not make it this year because the company nearly halved its profits despite higher revenues as it focuses on internal reorganisation. The last 12 on the list have their wealth estimated at around EUR 11m each.

Biggest climbers
Sandi Češko     Studio Moderna 135%
Otmar Zorn Iskra zaščite 93%
Odlazek family Krater 70%
Albreht family Zlatarna Celje 54%
Karoly family GMT 51%
Anton and Verica Šenk Inotherm 42%


Biggest drops
Bahtijar Bajrović Sportina, Condor Real -53%
Tomaž Lovše Diners Club and finacial holdings -53%
Peter Tevž Radeče Papir -51%
Mirko Tuš Tuš Holding -49%
Stanko Polanič Intering Holding, Skupina Panvita -45%
Darko Zupanc PSZ -40%

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