The Slovenia Times

Govt Unfreezes Privatisation


The government announced it had changed its decree from earlier this month so that ongoing privatisation procedures would continue.

A total of 15 companies have been slated for sale as part of the first phase of privatisation, of which two have already been sold: chemical group Helios and laser maker Fotona.

Sales procedures were meanwhile in full swing for telco Telekom Slovenije and airport operator Aerodrom Ljubljana when the decree was adopted.

Other major companies on the list include the NKBM bank, food group Žito and building materials maker Cinkarna Celje.

In addition to unfreezing the sales the cabinet demanded from SSH to call a shareholders' meeting of the NLB bank to check Croatian food group Agrokor's takeover of retailer Mercator.

According to a statement from the Government Communication Office, the SSH must check whether Agrokor's investment is in line with its previous pledges regarding the takeover of Slovenia's top grocery chain.

Additionally, the cabinet also tasked the Finance Ministry to review in cooperation with the SSH privatisation conditions in other EU countries.

The main goal of such a review would be identifying non-financial conditions for privatisation used by other EU members. These include conditions regarding the protection of existing jobs, development of the company and the transfer of know-how.

Government officials have in recent days suggested that Slovenia should place greater emphasis on non-financial conditions with which the buyer provides for the development of the company.

The temporary freeze, which the government said was being put in place to allow the new government to decide on how to proceed following the 13 July election, has been widely criticised in business circles as the latest hurdle to a long overdue process of selling state shares.

The decree was adopted after loud complaints from two coalition partners regarding the sale of Mercator to Agrokor. Subsequent statements suggested the government was split on the decree.

While the government was widely expected to backtrack already last Thursday, it decided instead to request an opinion from its own lawyers to the SSH complaint which claimed the freeze was illegal.

Prime Minister Alenka Bratušek scheduled a meeting of coalition heads for today to continue debate. They subsequently decided to call a cabinet session.


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