STA, 1 October 2019 - Lek, the Slovenian subsidiary of Swiss multinational Novartis, has announced phasing out the production of antibiotics in Slovenia's Prevalje in two years' time and moving it to neighbouring Austria. In the meantime, Prevalje will become one of the two locations of Novartis's emerging global centre for technical operations.
The news comes a month after the company said it would not expand production in the northern town of Prevalje despite having just built a new facility there.
Along with Hyderabad in India, Prevalje will become one of the two locations of Novartis's new global centre which will support the multinational's entire production network, Lek's new director general Robert Ljoljo said on Tuesday.
"The centre will be a hub for logistics, the supply chain, purchases, quality control, production science and technology, and engineering," he told the press after today's meeting with employees.
The new centre in Slovenia will employ "several hundred people", mostly experts in logistics, quality control and production science and technology, he explained.
He said that by assuming an additional role within Novartis, Lek was consolidating its presence in Slovenia and "pledges to remain in Koroška".
All Prevalje workers will be given a chance to retrain for new jobs, explained Roman Burja, director of Antiinfektivi Prevalje, the name of Lek's Prevalje company.
As production is being phased out in the coming two years, new jobs will be created gradually and the production will be gradually moved to Austria's Kundl, he added.
Lek has 250 employees and another 70 agency workers at Antiinfektivi Prevalje.
Production has already been suspended and the employees are on a paid leave, coming to meetings with their bosses to discuss the company's future plans for Prevalje.
Lek managers also met the local authorities, with Prevalje Mayor Matic Tasič hoping "they realise in Ljubljana that Prevalje could well be the seat of the new centre".
Ljolja meanwhile also said that TAB Mežica, a local maker of starter batteries for cars and industrial batteries, was interested in buying the recently-built Lek production facility.
A letter of intent has already been signed, he said, but would not disclose any other details.
Lek also expects some of its Antiinfektivi Prevalje employees to get jobs at TAB, which is planning to branch out into production of lithium-ion batteries.