The Slovenia Times

Helios Denies Negative Reports


Helios, which came under fire in recent days and was presented as an example of the pitfalls of privatisation, said its debt had never been increased to EUR 407m as claimed by some.

Its debt presently at EUR 84m and will fall below EUR 80m at the end of June after it was still at EUR 110m last year. The reduction is the result of better inventory management and of business and financial restructuring, the company said.

Helios did not pay a single euro for the funding of the takeover transaction nor did it take out any loans. The funding of the takeover, worth EUR 145m, was secured with ownership and debt capital provided by the Ring Holding and two among the biggest global financial funds, the press was told.

Ring CEO and chief supervisor at Helios Gerald Martens said it was sad that the new owners were being accused of things that are not true and that this hurt the company as well as Slovenia.

He said that none of the conditions in the sales contract had been violated, which is why he finds the accusations coming from some of the employees as well as from some politicians unfair.

Martens stressed that Economy Minister Metod Dragonja had not announced a lawsuit but only a quick investigation whose preliminary results are expected next week. Only then will the minister decide if there are grounds for legal action against the management and supervisors.

Martens in turn mentioned the possibility of a lawsuit against Parliament Speaker Janko Veber in case he fails to retract his statement that along with laying off 155 people, the new owner increased Helios' debt from EUR 102m to EUR 407m.

It is meanwhile already clear that action will be taken against workers' representative Ivanka Jana Poljanšek, who appeared on TV Slovenija news magazine show Studio City on Monday and spoke of threats coming from the management among other things.

While Poljanšek said she would not respect the prohibition of speaking about ongoing talks because the prohibition was unilateral and thereby invalid, Martens said today that she cannot speak about ongoing negotiations in the public and cannot say things that are not true.

He is angry with Poljanšek because of claims the management wants further layoffs, saying this was not true. The only thing planned is a 3.5% pay cut, which is little considering that labour costs would need to be cut by 35% if the average in the sector were to be matched.


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