The Slovenia Times

Fmr. Laško Boss Regrets Demise of Company, but Bears no Grudge


But he told the STA he bore no grudges against his successor Boško Šrot, whose failed management buyout ultimately forced the company to seek a strategic partner.

A majority stake in Laško is currently on sale and five bidders reportedly remain in the game, four private equity funds and Dutch brewer Heineken.

Turnšek believes Heineken would be "the best owner", but Laško will remain in operation regardless of who ultimately buys it.

"I see no reason why a brewery that brews such good beer would be shut down. Whoever did that would be a complete idiot," he said.

Nevertheless, Turnšek acknowledged that the company had problems, most notably outdated equipment due to lack of investment.

Laško has been struggling for years after Turnšek's successor Boško Šrot, who was sacked in 2009, saddled it with a mountain of debt due to a failed management buyout.

The company also got involved in politics, including with the purchase of newspaper publishers Delo and Večer, and deals involving the retailer Mercator, which it used for political leverage.

The unravelling of the deals has undone Turnšek's life work, the creation of a major drinks player that at its peak controlled 90% of the beer market and a significant chunk of the soft drinks market.

"My vision has been to merge the drinks industry...It was stupid how Laško and Union conducted themselves before we merged and started a joint procurement policy," he said.

Turnšek was accordingly tight-lipped about subsequent deals, most notably the Mercator purchase. "I wanted to merge the drinks industry, not stores."

Nevertheless, he does not regret having proposed Šrot, who was "inclined to management buyouts," as successor ten years ago. "I did not share Šrot's vision...but we did not have a falling-out."

Indeed, Turnšek admitted to knowing "a little bit" about the connections between a series of mailbox companies which Šrot took control of Laško. But, he says, he could not change that since he was about to retire


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