The Slovenia Times

SSH chairman says state assets managed well this year

Economy

Ljubljana - State assets were managed well in 2021, chairman of Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH) said in an interview with Delo's Saturday supplement. "The return on equity of the portfolio under management will be 1.3 percentage points higher than planned. Based on the current assessment of the companies' performance, it will reach 5.5%," he said.

Dividends paid out this year will amount to EUR 150.9 million and will be significantly higher due to last year's restrictions imposed by regulators on insurers and banks. The market value of equity investments held by SSH increased by EUR 202 million to EUR 874 million due to favourable environment.

The book value of investments managed by SSH is EUR 10.3 billion, of which the holding company owns EUR 930 million, he noted.

The transfer of the property to the state is currently scheduled for the end of 2022, but ┼Żlak believes that they will be able to extend the deadline to meet future legal obligations, such as compensation to the beneficiaries of the denationalisation. "For next year, we expect these outflows to stand at EUR 16 million, and around EUR 110 million in total," he told Sobotna Priloga.

Dividends of EUR 182 million are planned in 2022 and around EUR 179 million in 2023. They expect a return on capital of 5% next year and 5.3% in 2023. Above all, the classification of investments needs to be reviewed, he said. "We believe there will be a change in 2022."

One of the main tasks of SSH in the coming year will also be the takeover of the Bank Assets Management Company (BAMC).

"A few months ago, we already started activities to take over the assets and tasks of the BAMC. We have agreed to take over the capital investment management segment, where SSH is sovereign, in the first quarter of next year. The tasks that we are not currently involved in will be more challenging, but we are confident that the team at SSH is capable of carrying this out," he said.

He announced that SSH would review its staffing procedures in 2022 and raise the criteria for appointing both supervisors and managements. "This will ensure that appointments are not linked to politics and reduce the risks associated with that. "I have no problem with a particular supervisor being politically defined, as long as he or she is competent and professional", he said.

Asked whether a provision would also be included saying that people who were appointed to political posts in the last six months will not be able to be appointed into management boards of state-owned companies, a rule already in place for supervisory boards, he answered in the affirmative.

Commenting on the case of energy trader Gen-I, where the shareholders did not grant another term to long-term CEO Robert Golob, he said that the current arrangement was unacceptable. "SSH will do everything in its power to ensure that, wherever in Slovenia, a state-owned company is not held captive by an individual who, through his voting rights, obstructs the management of that company."

As for the setting up of a tourism holding, he said that apart from the possibility of purchase and the formation of a tourism holding the annual management plan envisaged other possible scenarios, such as the merger of Sava and Sava Turizm and a joint sale with the York Fund. As Sava is still classified as an important investment, the state should retain a 25 % stake plus one share.

"This is in the annual management plan now and I think it will give SSH more room for manoeuvre. We have extended the refinancing of Sava until 30 June 2022 and I believe that by then we will know which of the envisaged options is the most optimal and feasible," he said, adding that the creditors and owners were still in talks, but a formal purchase process was not underway.

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