The Slovenia Times

Railways Boss Sacked


The supervisors will ask the Capital Assets Management Agency (AUKN) for a consent to the appointment of board member Dušan Mes as the new general manager, chief supervisor Bojan Brank said.

He said that based on the feedback from part of the management, the supervisors unanimously assessed that Blejec was lacking in "managerial skills necessary to rescue the system of Slovenske železnice".

Brank acknowledged that some of Blejec's moves were "appropriate and of good quality", but said that only someone with the ability to pull the whole team with them could carry out the comprehensive restructuring needed.

Blejec was served a no-cause dismissal and is eligible for compensation for loss of office in the amount of six monthly salaries.

"Let's be fair; if on appointing this management we assessed that it has certain competences, but have realised after 120 days that we need a different style of management, that is not a matter of guilt."

Blejec stands by his programme of restructuring, including pay adjustment and staff cutbacks, he told the STA, adding that the measures he proposed were urgent for the company to become efficient.

He said the railways had a powerful, well organised trade union, which defends jobs and bonuses. "This is perfectly understandable, but I think the time has come for the unions to contribute their share to a turnaround."

Brank expects AUKN to respond to the request for the endorsement of the replacement within eight days, as stipulated by law, if not earlier.

If endorsed, Mes will become the 13th boss of Slovenske železnice in the last 20 years. Only one of them, Marjan Rekar, served the whole term in 1993-1998.

Mes, who served as crisis manager at the builder SCT before the company went into receivership, would then appoint management members, who would in turn need the endorsement of the supervisory board.

Noting that Mes was one of the three management members preparing key documents, Blejec said he thought "Mes will make a good general manager that will make a step forward, something that I was unfortunately prevented to do".

Brank spoke to reporters as the supervisory board was still in session hearing reports from the bosses of individual companies within Slovenske železnice on the situation at the companies and their plans.

Also under discussion is "how the strategy by AT Kearney until 2020 is reflecting on the operating results, the mid-term plan that is being drawn up by AUKN, and plans for the current business year," Brank said.

Based on today's presentations, key issues will be identified, the answers to which will be sought at the supervisory board's next session on 29 March, according to Brank.

He believes the supervisors could adopt the company's business plan at the next session.

Asked about the audit requested by AUKN, Brank said the one requested in December was close to completion, while the most recent request would be discussed at the next session.

The rail operator made an estimated loss of EUR 10.5-11m last year, of which EUR 6.7m was due to derivative financial instruments (the conversion of debts into Swiss francs in the past) and a EUR 3m shortfall in funds from the state budget.

Figures for the first nine months of 2011 showed a net loss of EUR 2.27m with operating profit at EUR 5.4m. Cargo was the biggest loss-maker with the nine-month loss at EUR 10.8m.


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