The Slovenia Times

Rescuing Slovenian Biggest Publisher

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Company Skupaj za knjigo (SZK) submitted its non-binding bid for a 69% of the Ljubljana-based publisher on 2 January, it said in a press release late on Friday.

SZK now expects to be invited to carry out due diligence and then submit a biding bid.

The company (whose name would translate as Together for Books) was established in late 2013 to prevent the publisher from being sold to a possibly phoney or to a foreign buyer.

Rok Zavrtanik of SZK believes the takeover of the key publisher and operator of book shops in Slovenia by a foreign company would be a national cultural disaster.

His comment came after Lithuania's largest publisher Alma Littera and Ram2, a company owned by a Slovenian businessman, were being mentioned as possible buyers late last year.

Zavrtanik said he was not surprised that publishers which would like to control the Balkans are beginning to get interested in Mladinska knjiga.

"Mladinska knjiga is not important only for Slovenia but for the entire region because it has the best infrastructure," he told the STA at the time.

MKZ has 48 bookshops and eight wholesale centre in Slovenia, but is present also in SE Europe.

Together with its subsidiary Cankarjeva zalo┼żba, it publishes 500 new titles and more than 100 reprints a year. Last year it also launched its e-store.

Creditor banks Abanka Vipa, NLB and Hypo Alpe Adria Bank got hold of the publisher as they seized it as collateral after Zvon Dva, a holding in indirect ownership of the Maribor Archdiocese, went into receivership in 2012.

The consortium tried to sell it at two auctions in 2013, first for EUR 22.56m and then for half the price, but no bidders came forward.

At the same time, Slovenian publishers, authors, intellectuals and Mladinska knjiga staff were urging the banks not to sell just to anybody.

They argued that Slovenia's specifics, such as the small book market bound by the Slovenian language, which is spoken by only 2 million, should be considered.

As a result they set up the SZK company to vie for what they consider the most important publisher for the Slovenian language, culture and book market.

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