The Slovenia Times

Banks, Gaming in Focus of Next Stage of Privatisation


Though the majority of the 50-odd equity stakes slated for disposal are unlikely to be attractive to investors, there are some firms that are likely to generate buzz in the investment community, in particular banks and gaming establishments.


Nova Ljubljanska banka
Unlike the other stakes on this list, Slovenia's largest bank, NLB is classified as an important investment in which the state plans to retain a controlling stake of 25% plus one share, which means a stake of almost 75% will be on sale. The bank has recovered after the late-2013 bailout and returned to profit, by offloading toxic loans and by embarking on far-reaching operational restructuring.

Abanka Vipa
The country's third largest bank is in 100% state ownership and needs to be wholly privatised in line with commitments made to the EU. The bank posted a loss of almost EUR 200m in 2014, largely related to the transfer of toxic assets to the bad bank, but its underlying performance is sound.

Banka Celje
Like Abanka in 100% state ownership following the bailout, Banka Celje must be privatised by mid-2019 at the latest under EU commitments. The current government plan involves merging it with Abanka prior to the sale. Together the two banks hold over 10% of the Slovenian bank market by assets.


Slovenia's biggest gaming company has been struggling for the past several years but appears to be slowly picking up. It posted sales of EUR 153m for last year, with operating profit at EUR 4m. Its performance has been weighed down by high gaming tax and the weakness of the Italian economy, the biggest source market. The state currently holds a 47.69% indirect stake, which will be sold, but the ownership structure is complex, as there are two classes of shares, with the state holding ordinary voting stock.

Casino Portorož
The company operates several casinos in the seaside resort of Portorož and in Lipica. It posted revenue of almost EUR 16m for 2013 and a net loss in excess of EUR 2m. The state holds a minority interest of 24.5% of ordinary shares, with 50% of the share issue preferred shares in the hands of private entities.

Casino Bled
Another struggling gaming company, Casino Bled operates a casino in the lakeside resort Bled. It is yet to release results for 2014, but in 2013 it posted a small net profit on sales of under EUR 3m. It has two classes of shares accounting for half of the share capital each, with the state holding the majority of ordinary voting shares and two private firms holding all the non-voting preferred shares.


The car industry supplier could be one of the biggest firms to be put on sale. After the recently completed debt restructuring the company is in majority ownership of the state and the state-owned bad bank and the NLB bank. The company incurred heavy losses in 2013 and is yet to report for 2014, but it is believed its underlying business is robust now that it has been relieved of debt.

Once one of the biggest footwear makers in Yugoslavia, Peko is a shadow of its former self but the brand is still well known. It is currently in the midst of restructuring and layoffs and plans to start turning a profit in the second half of the year. In 2013 it posted sales of EUR 30m and a net loss of EUR 3.4m. A 66.8% stake will be available.


Terme Čatež
Though the state plans to retain controlling stakes in the majority of major tourism companies, Terme Čatež, Slovenia's biggest spa operator, is an exception. A 23.8% state stake will be available for disposal, though it is unlikely to find buyers other than the companies controlled by Bojan Petan, who already firmly controls Terme Čatež.

Union hoteli
A 18.75% stake in Union Hoteli, which operates four hotels in the centre of Ljubljana, will be put up for sale. The stake is likely to be attractive to potential buyers of ACH, the conglomerate that is amidst a complex restructuring process managed by the Bank Asset Management Company (BAMC), the bad bank.


Dozens of other equity stakes are for sale, but many are problematic per se, such as the 100% stakes in the long liquidated mines Trbovlje-Hrastnik and Žirovski vrh, or the majority stake in Bodočnost Maribor, a sheltered workshop.

Some minority stakes might however at least generate some revenue for the government. These include the 4.47% in bank Gorenjska banka, 4.35% stake in logistics group Intereuropa, 14.4% stake in KDD, the stock clearing company, 8.4% stake in dairy Pomurske mlekarne, and 7.3% stake in chemical company TKI Hrastnik.

Yet others are smaller companies that, if the stakes are put up for sale, are likely to end up with the existing major shareholders. These include the 15% stake in printing company Cetis, 10% of newspaper publisher Večer, 49.3% of heating utility Energetika Črnomelj, and minor stakes in two subsidiaries of telecoms operator Telemach.


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