The Slovenia Times

AmCham Event Concludes Privatisation Still Takes Too Long


Matej Runjak of the Slovenia Sovereign Holding (SSH) said that while privatisation was going in the right direction, it was taking too long, adding that what was missed in the last ten years could not be compensated for over night.

When there are many shareholders and trade unions and the public also jumps in, it is hard to juggle with all these interests, he said referring to the lengthy privatisation procedures in Slovenia.

While it took the state a while to sell coatings maker Helios, the sale of airport operator Aerodrom Ljubljana was fast, successful and well organised, Runjak told the event in Ljubljana.

Helios chief supervisor Gerald Martens noted that the new owner, Austria's Ring International, had managed to halve the company's debt and significantly increase its gross profit.

Martens, who took over in 2014, was critical of the Slovenian media, saying that "it is not the role of newspapers to comment on which company should be privatised".

Chairman of the NLB bank Janko Medja agreed that privatisation was taking too long, but added that a lot had been done last year. "Slovenian privatisation is like a married couple who is not very fond of each other, but know they must fulfil their marital obligation."

While Runjak said it was hard for the SSH to manage five to six sales procedures at the same time, Finance Ministry State Secretary Metod Dragonja assessed that the procedures managed by the Bank Asset Management Company (BAMC), the bad bank, were running smoothly.

As the SSH would like the government to adopt a state asset management strategy as soon as possible, Dragonja confirmed that the strategy would be finalised next week.

The strategy will be followed by a classification of state-owned assets, which according to Runjak will be subject to a political and expert debate.

As the state has committed to selling its biggest bank NLB, Medja was asked whether the bank was prepared for privatisation.

He explained the bank was cutting costs and optimising operations, and added that "we are not there yet, there is still much to be done".

Medja has however noticed that there was not much interest in banks in the region from large international banks, while some interest had been shown only by investment funds.

The NLB boss also responded to the criticism that his bank was not crediting companies enough. "This criticism comes from those who are not creditworthy. Liquidity is very high at the moment."


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