The Slovenia Times

PM Bratušek Happy With Roadshow in Russia


"Not only is Slovenia a wonderful country, it is also a country of great opportunity," Prime Minister Alenka Bratušek told some 60 mostly Russian executives.

She said privatisation of non-strategic companies was a priority for her government in a bid to improve the competitiveness of the Slovenian economy.

"Our government is serious about privatisation," she said, promising that the procedures would be transparent and conducted through public tenders.

Slovenia is seeking strategic partners with a long-term view that will develop the companies, she said.

A total of 13 companies and one bank, NKBM, are currently for sale, but Bratušek said a comprehensive strategy determining exactly which companies are strategic would be drawn up early next year.

However, she also said investment opportunities extended beyond privatisation, involving sectors such as tourism, the car industry, logistics and wood processing.

Russian Minister of Mass Communications Nikolai Nikiforov said Slovenia was Russia's strategic partner in the Balkans, most notably as one of the countries traversed by the planned South Stream gas pipeline.

He is convinced that the investment conference would serve to remove seeming obstacles and increase trade.

Sergey Gorkov, a senior executive at Sberbank, told the panel that Slovenia had plenty of investment opportunities and the time was right to invest.

Sberbank is the first Russian bank in Slovenia, having entered the market with the acquisition of the small Austrian Volksbank.

The vice-president of Koks, an industrial conglomerate which owns the Slovenian steelworks SIJ, highlighted Slovenia's geographical position and friendly ties with Russia as the main attractions.

He however criticised strict ecological demands, saying that the rules should be simplified.

The roadshow was Bratušek's first stop on her working visit to Moscow. She is also expected to meet Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Russia is an important trading partner for Slovenia, with bilateral trade reaching EUR 1.24bn last year, up nearly a tenth over the year before.

Slovenia exported EUR 881m worth of goods, mostly medicines, while imports, at EUR 362m, involved mostly energy products.

In the past two weeks the government organised similar roadshows in Düsseldorf, Paris and Milan.


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