Business

03 Aug 2021, 16:22 PM

STA, 3 August 2021 - Beer lovers, brewers, hop growers and pub owners will celebrate International Beer Day on Friday. Last year, there were 68 companies in Slovenia with beer production as their main activity, compared to only 12 in 2010, according to the Statistics Office. According to 2018 data, Slovenians consume 26 litres of beer at home on average per year.

Slovenia's beer exports surpassed imports last year. According to the statisticians, Slovenia exported EUR 44.7 million worth of beer, the most in 10 years, with imports standing at EUR 26.2 million.

In value terms, Slovenia's beer exports were up 19% compared to 2019, while imports were down 3%. Most of the exports went to Croatia (27%), followed by Italy (21%) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (21%). Meanwhile, the most imports came from Austria (40%), Croatia (21%) and the Czech Republic (9%).

The beer trade is at its busiest in the summer months of June, July and August. In 2020, Slovenia exported 44% of its total annual beer exports during these months (with July being the peak month) and imported 33% of its total annual beer imports.

Beer prices have not changed significantly in Slovenia over the last ten years, either in restaurants or in shops. Last year, the average price of a pint of light beer in a pub was EUR 2.93. In shops, the average price of a pint of beer made in Slovenia was EUR 0.88.

Slovenia is one of the EU's largest hop producers after Germany and the Czech Republic. In 2020, Slovenia produced 2.723 tonnes of hops (up 6%), even though the growing area was 8% smaller than in 2019, as the hops were cultivated on 1,489 hectares.

As is the case with beer, Slovenia is primarily an export-oriented country, exporting most of the hops it produces. Last year, most hops were exported to Germany, accounting for 37% of the total.

29 Jul 2021, 14:26 PM

STA, 29 July 2021 - The group Telekom Slovenije generated EUR 317.6 million in sales revenue in the first half of the year, down 1% from the same period in 2020. Net profit was up by 44% to EUR 21.3 million, Telekom said on Thursday.

"The Covid-19 pandemic had an impact on revenue in 2021, through lower revenues from our users roaming in foreign operators' networks, and foreign users roaming in our mobile networks, along with lower revenue from IT licenses," the group said in a press release published on the web site of the Ljubljana Stock Exchange.

The unaudited business results were endorsed by the supervisors on Wednesday.

From January to June, earnings before interest, taxes (EBIT) amounted to EUR 29.3 million, which is the same as in the same period last year. Taking into account one-off events from 2020, EBIT in 2021 would have been 26% higher, compared to the same period last year, the group said.

The group's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) was up by 1% to EUR 113.7 million. Taking into account one-off events from 2020, it would have been 6% higher year on year.

The group's net profit would have been 22% higher than in the first six months of 2020.

The core company Telekom Slovenije generated 3% lower sales revenue than in the same period last year, at EUR 287.3 million.

EBITDA dropped by 2% to EUR 94 million and EBIT was down 16% to EUR 23.7 million. Net profit was up 87% to EUR 28.5 million.

"Regardless of the challenges related to the Covid-19 pandemic, Telekom Slovenije Group remains financially stable and continues to adapt its activities to the changing market conditions, while carefully monitoring and assessing the risks in supply chain, credit risk, system operations and the profitability of individual services," Telekom wrote.

At the end of the year, the group expects to post EUR 653 million in revenue, EUR 210.6 million in EBITDA and EUR 30.8 million in net profit. It plans to allocate EUR 203.7 million for investment.

The supervisors gave the green light yesterday to the appointment of Rajko Gerič as the CEO of the company TSmedia for a four-year term staring on 1 August, and the appointment of Sandra Peršak as the CEO of the company TSinpo, also starting her four-year term next month.

The appointment of Mitja Štular as the head of the company GVO as of 1 August was also confirmed. Štular, a member of the Telekom Slovenije management board, will lead GVO until a new CEO is appointed, expectedly until 1 September, when Zef Vučaj is to be appointed.

The supervisors also cleared the appointment of Simon Furlan as the head of the companies Siol Beograd, Siol Podgorica, Siol Sarajevo, Siol Dooel Skopje, Siol Zagreb and Siol Prishtina.

29 Jul 2021, 11:06 AM

STA, 29 July 2021 - Slovenia's pharma group Krka Group saw its net profit rise by 11% to EUR 177.4 million in the first six months on record sales revenue of EUR 808.6 million, according to unaudited data.

Sales revenue was up by 1% compared to the same period last year and 6% higher than in the first six months of 2019, Krka said in a press release published on the web site of the Ljubljana Stock Exchange after the supervisors reviewed the results on Wednesday.

The group generated 95% of sales in markets outside Slovenia.

In East Europe, the group's largest region in terms of sales, sales revenue was up 2% to EUR 276.5 million. In Russia, sales dropped by 7% to EUR 168.2 million while the sales in local currency were up by 10%.

In Central Europe, which includes the Visegrad Group countries and Baltic countries, sales were up by 3% to EUR 188.9 million. In Poland, revenue increased by 2% to EUR 87.6 million.

Western Europe was the only region to see a drop in revenue, by 12% to EUR 159.6 million, reportedly due to the absence of new calls for applications. However, sales were up in the UK, France, Ireland and Austria. But they were the highest in Germany and France, Krka said.

In South East Europe, sales increased by 8% to EUR 112.3 million.

In Slovenia, EUR 41.8 million in sales was generated, up 9% from the same period last year. The revenue from products sale reached EUR 28.4 million and from spa and tourist services EUR 13.3 million.

Krka Group sold EUR 27.5 million worth of products overseas, which is 14% more than in the first half of 2020.

Operating profit before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) totalled EUR 255 million, 7% down on the first half of 2020. Operating profit (EBIT) reached EUR 200.5 million, a 7% decrease year on year.

Due to favourable exchange rate movements, a positive net financial result of EUR 6.7 million was generated.

The core company generated EUR 711.8 million in sales revenue, down 9% from the first six months of 2020. Net profit dropped by 1% to EUR 154.6 million.

EBITDA decreased by 17% to EUR 208.7 million, while EBIT was down 20% to around EUR 166 million.

The group, which had 11,607 employees at the end of June or 12,524 if agency workers are included, allocated EUR 29.5 million for investment in the first six months, including EUR 22.5 million in the controlling company. Development costs totalled EUR 75.6 million.

The group plans to generate EUR 1.535 billion in sales revenue this year and some EUR 265 million in profit.

CEO Jože Colarič labelled the results as excellent, saying the group would continue on this path.

The supervisors also endorsed Colarič's proposal to grant another term to management board members Aleš Rotar, Vinko Zupančič and David Bratož.

23 Jul 2021, 13:01 PM

STA, 23 July 2021 - Slovenia's tourism is beginning to pick up with fresh statistics showing visitor numbers rose by well over 50% and nights spent at tourism accommodation facilities by almost 70% year-on-year in June.

Arrivals were up by 54.7% to over 375,000 and nights spent rose by 66.7% compared with June last year to over a million, data from the Statistics Office show.

Slovenian tourists accounted for 69% of the nights spent. Most of those were spent in the coastal municipalities of Piran and Izola and Brežice in the east, known for the spa Terme Čatež.

The number of domestic tourists rose by 62% year-on-year to almost 249,100 as foreign visitor numbers increased by 42% to just over 126,000. The latter accounted for just over 317,500 nights spent.

Germans accounted for 20% of the nights spent by foreign tourists, followed by Austrians (15%), Hungarians (9%), Czechs (7%) and Italians (6%).

Both domestics and foreign guests spent most of their nights in Piran (121,800 and 48,200, respectively), however, while other coastal and spa destinations followed as their destinations of choice for Slovenian guests, foreign guests preferred Ljubljana, Bled, Bovec and Bohinj as their other choices.

Hotels were where the 39% of the nights were spent, followed by private rooms, apartments and houses (22%) and campsites (18%).

In the first half of the year tourism accommodation facilities recorded some 572,700 arrivals and 1.7 million nights spent, which is down 38% and 33% year-on-year, respectively. 66% of the nights spent were by locals.

23 Jul 2021, 12:43 PM

STA, 22 July 2021 - The government has added cross-border workers to the list of exceptions for quarantine-free entry to Slovenia if they do not have a Covid certificate. The exception will apply to workers who live up to ten kilometres from the national border.

Under the decree adopted on Thursday, cross-border workers employed in one of the member states of the EU or the Schengen Area are permitted to enter Slovenia under these conditions.

Their residence in Slovenia, though, needs to be not farther than ten kilometres away from the national border. The distance from the border, measured as the crow flies, will be determined with Google maps.

Cross-border worker are required to return within five days after they cross into another country. It is a temporary exception that is expected to be in force until 15 August, and not later than until 1 September, the Government Communication Office said.

As of 15 July, Slovenia no longer applies lists of countries relative to the epidemiological situation, as all persons entering the country must produce a certificate proving that they have been tested, recovered or vaccinated against Covid-19. Otherwise they are ordered to quarantine.

So far, the exceptions applied to children under 15, owners of property both sides of the borders and people who are transiting through Slovenia. There has been significant criticism as to cross-border workers having not been put among the exceptions.

19 Jul 2021, 14:24 PM

STA, 19 July 2021 - The Infrastructure Ministry has issued an energy permit for the construction of the second unit at the Krško nuclear power station, a step that allows permitting procedures to begin and comes a week after the national climate strategy enshrined nuclear as a long-term energy option. The project will be managed by the state-owned Gen Energija.

"The energy permit kick-starts the broadest possible public debate, not just at the expert level but also among the people," Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec told the press on Monday, adding that this did not mark the final decision on the investment, it is merely the first step.

Only after a broad social consensus is reached, procedures such as siting, the acquisition of a building permit, selection of contractor and construction itself will begin.

Project details such as estimated price, time frame or selection of technology have not been determined yet, nor has the precise location.

Vrtovec said the energy permit would serve as the basis for the verification of environmental, spatial, technical and economic parameters in the form of a national spatial plan, environmental impact assessment, cross-border impact assessment, building permit acquisition, selection of supplier and financing.

He said the plan was to build a 1.1 GW unit with an estimated production of 9,000 GW of electricity per year and a life span of sixty years.

The best available technology at the time of tendering will be used. According to Gen Energija director general Martin Novšak, for now the best and safest technology is a pressurised water reactor of the kind currently in use in Krško.

New generations of nuclear reactors are under development, including small modular reactors, but the technology has not hit the market yet.

Novšak said the second unit was "necessary and technologically feasible" and provided the answer to the energy trilemma - the balance of reliability of supply, environmental acceptability and economics. The company has enough experience to manage the project economically and transparently.

The investment would be financed with a combination of own sources, potentially with the help of co-investors and even with EU funds, according to him.

Novšak said the optimistic scenario was to arrive at a final decision in five years, whereupon it would take five years to complete construction. "This is a really ambitious goal," he said.

President Borut Pahor recently mentioned that a major decision such as this should be put to a referendum. Vrtovec said there was "no hurry" to do that, but if the people want a referendum "I see no serious problem why the people should not express their opinion."

Judging by good experience with the original power station, Vrtovec expects that the people will support the project.

As for the sentiment in neighbouring countries - Austria is a staunch opponent of nuclear and some stakeholders in Italy have expressed apprehension - Vrtovec said their positions were clear, but "every country secures its own energy mix".

Given that Slovenia plans to abandon coal by 2033, he does not imagine the country could secure energy independence only with alternative energy sources, without nuclear.

Slovenia's current nuclear installation, launched in 1983, has a permit to operate until 2023 but a 20-year extension has already been requested and is now the subject of various assessment procedures.

There is cross-partisan support for nuclear energy in the country and the plant has a flawless safety record.

12 Jul 2021, 14:02 PM

STA, 12 July 2021 - The number of housing transactions in Slovenia dropped by 17.5% last year, the second sharpest fall among the 13 EU member countries for which data are available, Eurostat data show.

Data released by the EU's statistics office on Monday show Cyprus seeing the biggest drop in the number of transactions, at 23.3%, followed by Slovenia, Belgium, at 17.4%, and Ireland, at 16.4%.

Only three countries recorded an increase in the number of housing transactions: Finland (+7.7%), the Netherlands (+10.0%) and Denmark (+20.1%).

Eurostat notes the drop in the number of transactions can be linked to lockdown measures, in particular in the second quarter of 2020, which included a temporary suspension of real estate activity.

It also notes that the fall in housing transactions came despite a continued increase in house prices and after nearly all the countries that saw a drop reported an increase in the number of transactions the year before.

09 Jul 2021, 09:15 AM

STA, 8 July 2021 - Pharmaceutical group Krka posted a net profit of EUR 177.4 million for the first half of the year, up 11% on the back of sales that reached EUR 808.6 million, up 1% over the same period last year, CEO Jože Colarič said at the company's annual general meeting in Otočec on Thursday.

Operating profit dropped by 8% to EUR 200.1 million according to early figures and gross operating profit decreased by 7% to EUR 254.7 million, Krka said in a release.

As much as 95% of the sales were generated on markets outside Slovenia, where products worth EUR 764.8 million were sold.

Krka's biggest single market, Eastern Europe, accounted for over 34% of the sales, or EUR 276.5 million, up 2%.

The dominant market within this region is Russia, where sales dropped by 7% to EUR 168 million, while growth was posted in most of the Eastern European markets and Asia.

Following Central Europe as the second biggest market accounting for 23.4% of the sales, Western Europe was third with an almost 20% share, and Germany the leader.

SE Europe placed fourth with 14% or EUR 112.3 million in sales, while in Slovenia, Krka's sales rose by 9% to EUR 41.8 million, accounting for 5.2% of group sales.

Other, overseas markets accounted for 3.4% of all group sales in the first six months, translating into EUR 27.5 million, up 14%.

The Novo Mesto-based group's investments in January-June amounted to over EUR 28 million, including over EUR 22 million at the parent company, the company said, adding the supervisory board would discuss the unaudited business results on 28 July.

Krka's shareholders will receive a record dividend of EUR 5 gross per share, up almost 18% from 2020, as the AGM backed the management's proposal to distribute EUR 156 million from last year's distributable profit of EUR 337.52.

Krka plans to end 2021 with sales of EUR 1.5 billion and a net profit of around EUR 265 million. Investments should total EUR 114 million.

"Business results in 2021 will depend on the spread of Covid-19 and related measures in individual countries, on global post-pandemic recovery and on exchange rate fluctuations in Krka's key currencies," the release says.

At the end of June, the Krka group employed 11,607 workers, while together with agency workers, the count reached 12,524.

07 Jul 2021, 18:41 PM

STA, 7 July 2021 - The Finance Ministry has proposed a rise in excise duties on cigarettes that comes with an average 5% increase for a pack of cigarettes. The rise, which is expected to take effect in August, is reckoned to bring in an additional EUR 18 million a year.

Under the proposal, which will be coordinated among ministries and then discussed by the government at one of its forthcoming sessions, excise duty per 1,000 cigarettes will rise from EUR 120 to EUR 127. Taking into account the increase and VAT, the average price of a pack of cigarettes will stand at EUR 3.24 from 1 August.

The rise will also affect cigars, cigarillos, fine-cut tobacco and other types of smoking tobacco as well as heat-not-burn tobacco.

When it comes to electronic cigarettes, excise duty on nicotine-free e-cigarettes is to increase, whereas the duties for e-cigarettes that contain nicotine will not change, according to information about the proposal posted on the eAdministration website.

The last increase in excise duties for tobacco products was implemented in October 2020.

02 Jul 2021, 11:20 AM

STA, 29 June 2021 - Slovenian military pilots are to train on and test aircraft produced by the light aircraft maker Pipistrel under an agreement signed by the Defence Ministry and the Ajdovščina-based company. A special partnership has also been agreed on that includes efforts to obtain EU and NATO funds for development projects.

The agreement was signed in Ajdovščina on Tuesday by Defence Minister Matej Tonin and Pipistrel director Ivo Boscarol.

Tonin told the press on the occasion that the Slovenian Armed Forces would be testing Pipistrel aircraft to become "greener" and contribute to greater representation of the Slovenian defence industry in the national defence system.

He said the Slovenian army was modernising its fleet, which would include training aircraft for military pilots at the beginning of their careers. Currently, ten worn-out Zlin aircraft are being used for pilot training.

By using Pipistrel aircraft, the ministry also wants to send a clear message to the allies in NATO and elsewhere in the world that these aircraft are of a very good quality, and help the company be even more successful in global markets.

Tonin and Boscarol have also agreed on a special partnership under which Slovenia would attract as much EU and NATO funds as possible to develop various technologies for the defence forces.

Boscarol noted that Pipistrel aircraft were already being used by large armies, adding that the advantages of the ones that will be tested by the Slovenian army included energy economy, low noise level and safety.

He added that the company was also developing systems and aircraft for defence and surveillance from the air, and announced steps in the direction of unmanned aerial vehicles. He and Tonin today also touched on the possibility of drone defence.

The Slovenian army will test the two-seat, fully electric Valis Electro and the two-seat Virus SW 121. The plan is also that it tests the four-seat Panthera in the future.

Learn more about the aircraft at the Pipistrel website

30 Jun 2021, 10:58 AM

STA, 29 June 2021 - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has upgraded by 1.5 percentage points its GDP growth forecast for Slovenia in 2021 to 5%. The institution expects that Slovenia's economy will expand by a further 4% next year.

The updated forecast, published on Tuesday, comes after the autumn projection in which the EBRD said it expected the country's GDP to expand by 3.5% this year.

The bank noted that the Covid-19 pandemic had significantly affected the Slovenian economy last year, with GDP dropping by 5.5%. This is, however, 2.5 percentage points fewer than projected by the EBRD last autumn.

It said that the key factors of the contraction were private consumption and investments, which were down 9.7% and 4.1%, respectively.

Slovenia, as a small and open economy strongly integrated in global value chains, also felt shocks in international trade, although exports of goods started recovering by the end of last year, the report says.

While exports of goods continue to grow, exports of services remain well below the pre-pandemic level. On the other hand, investment activity had experienced a rapid recovery by the end of 2020.

The EBRD expects the general government deficit, which last year reached 8.4% of GDP, to increase this year to 8.6%, as the government has largely kept implementing an expansive fiscal policy.

The bank says that vaccination and gradual relaxation of measures to stem the pandemic will lead to gradual recovery of consumption and services, while exports of goods and investment will continue to support economic growth.

The EBRD also warns against short-term risk factors, as new waves of coronavirus infections could restrict the recovery of the tourism sector and other services, while disruptions in supply chains could affect production and exports of goods.

GDP forecast/time of projection     2021      2022     2023
-------------------------------------------------------------
Banka Slovenije/June 2021           5.2%      4.8%     3.1%
OECD/May 2021                       3.5%      4.6%
IMF/May 2021                        3.9%      4.5%     3.6%
European Commission/May 2021        4.9%      5.1%
IMAD/March 2021                     4.6%      4.4%     3.3%
EBRD/June 2021                      5.0%      4.0%
-------------------------------------------------------------
Source: Individual forecasts
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