Slovenia deemed interesting investment destination for UK

"If you want to participate, you better hurry, because equity stakes are selling like hot cakes," Imre Balogh, the head of the Bank Assets Management Company (BAMC), told investors.

He said that BAMC, Slovenia's bad bank, had contributed to the excellent form of Slovenia's economy by monetizing EUR 1.25bn worth of non-performing investments by Slovenian banks between 2013 and this year's October.

Vedrana Jelušić Kašić, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) regional director for Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary and Slovakia, meanwhile, pointed to the excellent health of the Slovenian entrepreneurial sector.

Slovenia is the leading country in the number of hidden champions, the most competitive small companies, she noted.

Jelušić Kašić also praised Slovenia's workforce and infrastructure, but said there was room for improvement on the labour market, which is too rigid, and in the field of state projects. These could further improve economic growth.

Slovenia's potential in new technologies was also highlighted at the conference. Miha Košak, an advisor to the Emona Capital fund, pointed to the Moneta mobile payment system, which was developed "when elsewhere in the world, including the UK, mobile banking did not even exist".

Economic Ministry State Secretary Aleš Cantarutti told the STA at the sidelines of the conference that British investors from a number of fields from finance to the automotive industry were interested in Slovenia.

The head of the SPIRIT investment promotion agency, Gorazd Mihelič, said that the government was trying to present Slovenia as a gateway to the region for British companies in the face of Brexit.

Cantarutti is happy with today's event and hopes that new British companies would soon invest in Slovenia. He said that Slovenia was currently working on helping to ease BSW Timber's entry into Slovenia.

Trade between the UK and Slovenia topped EUR 901m last year, with Slovenia exporting EUR 534. In the first seven months of this year, trade reached EUR 527m, of which EUR 311m were Slovenian exports.

A major part of the trade between the two countries are electric appliances, machinery and cars.

The UK, meanwhile, invested just shy of EUR 300m or 2.6% of all foreign investment in Slovenia.

The Invest in Slovenia conference was organised by the British-Slovenian Chamber of Commerce, SPIRIT and the Economy Ministry.