Golob’s party joins calls to stop Sava sale

Ljubljana – Freedom Movement, the party of Robert Golob which is currently ahead in the polls, has joined calls for the state to exercise its pre-emptive right to a stake in the tourism holding Sava that will otherwise be sold to a Hungarian investor. The party threatened on Friday to use all legal means to prevent the sale.

Key tourism infrastructure should not be given up to speculative financial funds “because it would be an irreversible step to indirectly sell unique plots and tourism facilities in the finest locations of our country, including 17 drinking and spa water wells,” said the party in a press release.

Through its tourism arm Sava Turizem, Sava owns hotels at the seaside, in the lakeside town of Bled and several spa resorts in eastern Slovenia. The state indirectly owns 47% of Sava.

The Luxembourg-based fund York is selling 43.2% in the company and at the beginning of this month Prestige Tourism, a company backed by the Hungarian asset manager Diofa Asset Management, confirmed it had bought the stake pending suspensive conditions.

The sale can be prevented if the state-run owners exercise their pre-emptive right by the end of the month.

The centre-left opposition yesterday accused the government and Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH) of dragging their feet, demanding the pre-emptive right to be exercised.

In today’s release Freedom Movement echoed their argument that the state should protect Sava and the resorts and assets it indirectly owns against a “speculative” acquisition.

The party finds the price of York’s stake in Sava, at EUR 38 million, would be financially acceptable.

“We declare we will use all legal means to prevent the transaction, including calling those responsible to account,” the party said referring to the sale to the Hungarian investor.

The party finds “natural buyers” of hotel assets owned by Sava Turizem are long-term investors such as pension and insurance companies. “We it as an investment opportunity for Slovenian pension funds and insurance companies that could disperse their funds into stable long-term domestic real estate investments,” said Freedom Movement.

The newspaper Delo last week reported that SSH declined a bid by Modra Zavarovalnica, an insurer that manages the top-up pension fund of public sector employees, to buy off its 18.7% stake in Sava and pre-emptive right. Modra is part of KAD, which holds the remaining state stake in Sava.

The centre-left opposition has demanded an emergency session of parliament on the issue, which could be held on 28 February.