14 Aug 2020, 12:51 PM

STA, 14 August 2020 - Speaking about a potential second nuclear reactor in Krško, Infrastructure Ministry State Secretary Blaž Košorok has told the STA that Slovenia is and will remain a nuclear country. Košorok, who is convinced Slovenia will need the reactor, called for a fact-based debate as opposed to politicking and appeals to emotions.

While the government recently placed a new nuclear reactor in Krško on the list of strategic projects for post-coronacrisis recovery, Košorok said this did not mean a final decision on the project had been made.

"We are talking about some kind of guidelines, but fact is that Slovenia is and will remain a nuclear country. We've been living with this for more than 40 years and will probably continue living with it," said Košorok.

The official, who described nuclear energy as a safe, reliable and long-term source of power, stressed that the 20-year extension of the life-span of what is currently Slovenia's sole nuclear reactor needs to be secured again first after a recent Administrative Court decision that entails a reinstalling of the original 40-year span ending in 2023.

Košorok is confident that the Environment Agency, which needs to okay the extension through an environmental impact assessment, has enough awareness about the importance of nuclear energy for Slovenia.

He stressed that securing the needed facilities for the storage of nuclear waste was a pre-condition for any decision. The investor, state-owned power utility Gen Energija, which manages Slovenia's half of the Krško nuclear power station, will have to be convicting with a serious investment plan and zoning procedures need to start.

Košorok added the investor will have to convince the asset manager, meaning the Slovenia Sovereign Holding, and key stakeholders, with the plan being that a decision on a second reactor be adopted until 2027 approximately.

Broad social consensus will be needed for a new reactor, especially in light of social and economic development, he added. He said some opposition is expected and normal while urging against politicking and for expertise-based debates.

He spoke of a fairly safe situation, pointing to the recent strong earthquake in nearby Zagreb that had no noteworthy effect on the Krško nuclear power plant whatsoever.

Košorok said it was too soon to speak about any technical details. There are a few interested parties, among them Westinghouse, which also built the existing reactor. Concrete decisions will be taken by experts, he added.

Interest in participation in the project was recently also expressed by Croatia, which co-owns the Krško nuclear power plant and has been cooperating with Slovenia in its management.

"There are ups and downs with any contract, a marriage is also a contract-based relationship that has good and bad moments. And I feel the good moments prevailed here," the official commented, welcoming Croatia's initiative while adding this was just one possible scenario.

The project has also drawn attention in other neighbouring countries, including Austria as a country traditionally opposed to nuclear energy. Talks were conducted as the life-span of the current reactor was being extended and Košorok said there had been "no dramatic opposition".

Meanwhile, the official also reflected on other potential energy projects in the country, highlighting the untapped potential in the Central Sava Valley, which he said could accommodate 10 hydro power plants. He said zoning and spatial planing should start immediately.

He moreover lamented the slow progress it the use of wind energy, saying Slovenia was unfortunately at the very tail end in this respect in the EU.

Košorok has a long track record in the energy industry. He headed the state-owned power utility HSE between 2012 and 2016, having before that spent seven years at the helm of the Ljubljana co-generation plant TE-TOL.

More on nuclear power and Slovenia

13 Aug 2020, 17:05 PM

STA, 13 August 2020 - The relevant national inspection service has carried out a total of 139 building permit checks for buildings under construction this year to find out in the 70 cases that have been closed that 25 of them have no adequate permits or do not meet the required conditions.

Out of these 25, twenty buildings were being built illegally, three did not meet the required conditions and two facilities posed a risk, the Construction, Surveying and Housing Inspection Service said in a press release on Thursday.

The inspections were carried out between February and July and a total of 70 cases were closed by 4 August.

For the 20 illegally build buildings, the inspection has ordered that construction be suspended and set deadlines for their removal.

A ban on the use of the dangerous buildings has been issued, as well as orders for their removal, while for the buildings that do not meet the required conditions decrees ordering the investors to eliminate the deficiencies have been issued.

"We are still noticing that the share of detected illegal builds during targeted regular inspections on the ground (without reports or initiatives) is extremely high," the inspection service said, adding that compared to the previous years the situation has not improved.

13 Aug 2020, 11:40 AM

STA, 13 August 2020 - Foreign direct investment in Slovenia increased by EUR 552 million in the first half of 2020, a significantly slower rate of increase than in the same period last year, when inbound investment rose by almost EUR 639 million. In the 12 months until the end of June, FDI was up EUR 725.7 million.

According to data released by Banka Slovenije on Thursday, EUR 370.7 million of the increase in the first half of 2020 was accounted for by reinvested profit, EUR 116.7 million by an increase in debt instruments and EUR 64.5 million by equity.

Domestic direct investment abroad meanwhile rose by EUR 222.7 million in the first six months, after it was up EUR 67.4 million in the same period last year. The net decrease in direct investment in the first six months was thus EUR 329.2 million.

Gross foreign debt stood at EUR 48.1 billion in June, a EUR 4.4 billion increase on a year ago. Debt increased the most for the state, by EUR 3.7 billion, and the central bank, by EUR 1.3 billion, while other sectors reduced debt by EUR 0.9 billion.

Net foreign debt amounted to EUR 300 million, a EUR 2.3 billion decrease, the state being the only net debtor in June with a debt of EUR 19.1 billion.

The current account surplus stood at EUR 1.4 billion in the first six months, down EUR 106 million on the same period last year.

The surplus in the trade of goods increased by EUR 236 million to EUR 1.085 billion. Exports decreased by 13.5% and imports by 15.7%. The surplus in the trade of services was down by EUR 400 million to EUR 933 million - the central bank attributes this to issues with travel due to the coronacrisis.

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11 Aug 2020, 10:45 AM

STA, 10 August 2020 - The supervisors of Slovenske Železnice have confirmed a revised business report for 2019, which shows the railways operator recorded a net profit of EUR 35 million, and appointed Aleksander Mervar the new chief supervisor.

Slovenske Železnice generated EUR 601 million in revenue in 2019, EBITDA amounted to EUR 87 million, EBIT to EUR 42 million and net profit to EUR 35 million, shows the updated report, discussed by the supervisors last Friday.   

Meanwhile, Mervar, the chairman of state-owned power utility Eles, was appointed chief supervisor by the nine-strong board, which started its term in September last year. The board had initially appointed Bojan Branko chief supervisor, but Branko passed away in June to be temporarily replaced by Aleksander Nagode.

The supervisory board also features Adam Vengušt, Igor Janez Zajec, Tanja Bolte, Silvo Berdajs, Zlatko Ratej and Jože Pavšek.

Slovenske Železnice moreover said on Monday that the group had adjusted its business plan for 2020 in the face of the coronacrisis.

The company, which will face around EUR 30 million in severance costs due to a planned reduction of its workforce from 7,200 to 6,200 by the end of the year, expects an operating profit of EUR 5.5 million.

10 Aug 2020, 11:53 AM

STA, 10 August 2020 - Pivovarna Laško Union, Slovenia's largest brewery, last year generated EUR 156.5 million in net sales revenue, up 2.2% year-on-year, on the back of higher sales in the domestic market. Net profit was meanwhile up by 20% to EUR 24.4 million, shows the annual report published on Monday.

The share of net sales revenue generated in foreign markets in total net sales revenue was 26%, while compared to 2018, the volume sales of beer in the Slovenian market were up by half a percent.

Pivovarna Laško Union's sales in foreign markets last year were up by 4.8% year-on-year, with the growth attributed to higher sales to companies in the Heineken Group, which has been the owner of the Slovenian brewery since 2016.

Director general Zooullis Mina says in the report that the coronavirus epidemic has significantly impacted the company's operations.

The closure of bars, restaurants, hotels and other establishments was followed by an almost 100% drop in sales in the hotel, restaurant and catering industries.

On the other hand, the company, which at the end of 2019 employed 585 workers, recorded no significant drop in sales to shops.

07 Aug 2020, 17:13 PM

STA, 7 August 2020 - Preliminary data by the Surveying and Mapping Authority indicate about a 40% drop in both the number of deals and turnover in real estate in the first half of 2020. Prices of used flats meanwhile continued to grow, by 3% compared to the second half of 2019, taking the average square metre price in the country above EUR 1,900 for the first time.

The latest stats on Slovenia and coronavirus are here

The data, released on Friday, show 10,800 transactions were registered in the first six months in a total value of EUR 770 million. This is a 40% drop for both figures compared on the second half of 2019 and a 40% and 45% decline respectively year-on-year.

The Surveying and Mapping Authority said that in the face of an almost complete market freeze during the lockdown, it decided to publish the preliminary data even though a fair part of deals for the first six months had not yet been registered and processed for proper market analysis. Final data will be released in October.

The body estimates that the actual year-on-year decline in the number of deals and in turnover will be between 35% and 40%. It pointed out that 2019 had seen record figures, mostly due to an unusually high number of deals involving commercial real estate.

As for the continuing rise in the prices of used flats - by 3% on the second half of 2019 and by 7% year-on-year - the Surveying and Mapping Authority noted a similar phenomenon had been seen in 2008.

"In such circumstances it is only the better and fairly expensive flats that continue to get sold and their prices are not decreasing yet due to market inertia," the experts wrote, while pointing out that the market picked up again in May as the epidemic was declared over.

Housing property accounted for almost 70% of total turnover in the first half of the year, up significantly on previous years and even above the 66% recorded in 2015. Between January and 15 July, 5,450 transactions were recorded, a 37% decrease on the second half of 2019 and 36% year-on-year. Turnover for new flats was down by more than 70%.

The number of recorded transactions with land suitable for construction on the other hand fell by only a third compared to the first and second half of 2019, while the number of deals involving farm and forest land decreased by about half.

All our news on real estate in Slovenia

06 Aug 2020, 13:07 PM

STA, 6 August 2020 - The Slovenian subsidiary of the Italian banking group Unicredit saw its consolidated profit plunge to EUR 1 million in the first half of 2020 compared to EUR 16 million in the same period last year.

Pre-tax profit for Unicredit Banka Slovenija and its leasing arm Unicredit Leasing in the first half was meanwhile down by 94.8%, from EUR 20 million to EUR 1 million, shows a report released on Thursday.

Net operating profit decreased 83.6% to EUR 4 million, and operating profit was down from 19 million to 11 million (-41.9%).

While operating revenue was down almost 22% to EUR 33 million, operating costs were down only 5.1% to EUR 21 million, with payroll costs decreasing by 4% to EUR 12 million.

Net interest revenue was up slightly to EUR 23 million, but net fees and commissions were down by 15.3% to EUR 11 million.

The bank saw a 2.2% drop in customers loans in the first half of the year to EUR 1.9 billion, while deposits by customers were up by 3.7% to EUR 2.08 billion.

06 Aug 2020, 11:44 AM

STA, 5 August 2020 - The registered jobless total in Slovenia stood at 89,397 at the end of July, which is almost unchanged compared to June but due to unemployment growth in April and May the figure is 24.4% above that from July 2019, show data released by the Employment Service on Wednesday.

There were 84,717 persons registered as unemployed on average in the first seven months of the year, 12.2% more than in the same period last year.

The number of newly registered unemployed persons was 8,222 in July, up by 8.2% on June and by 32.4% in the year-on-year comparison.

Among the newly registered, 4,042 had seen their fixed term contracts expire, 490 were first time job seekers, 127 became unemployed because of receivership and 2,221 were long-term redundancies.

The new number of newly registered redundant persons was up by 0.9% compared to June and by 197.3% year on year.

Of the 8,202 persons that were removed from the unemployment registry, jobs were found by 6,487, a 95.7% increase year-on-year.

02 Aug 2020, 12:26 PM

STA, 2 August 2020 - Sunday shopping will again resemble the pre-corona times as all major retailers in Slovenia are to be open this Sunday. After Mercator, Tuš, Hofer and Eurospin decided to reopen last Sunday, today shoppers can also flock to Spar, Lidl, Leclerc and Jager.

Shopping centres operated by SES will also reopen today, including the Ljubljana Citypark, Aleja and Vič shopping centres, Celje Citycenter and Maribor Europark.

Sunday shopping returns after the government revoked a temporary ban on Sunday shopping last week, a measure that was put in place in the earliest stages of the coronavirus epidemic.

The Sunday shopping ban was reversed effective last Friday, with the decision coming just a week after legislation that would permanently close shops on Sunday stalled in parliament.

The government has withheld its support for the bill, which remains in parliamentary procedure, and suggested retailers and trade unions try and reach an agreement.

30 Jul 2020, 09:44 AM

STA, 30 July 2020 – The group around the drug maker Krka generated EUR 803.8 million in sales revenue in the first half of the year, a 6% increase compared to the same period in 2019, while gaining EUR 160.3 million in net profit, up 15% year-on-year, the company said in a press release on Thursday.

After the half-year report was discussed by the Krka supervisory board on Wednesday, the management issued a statement today saying that "the Krka Group performed well in the first half of the business year, and reached record results."

"Despite the coronavirus pandemic outbreak, Krka has kept the supply of medicinal products to markets across the world uninterrupted," said CEO Jože Colarič.

The release adds that the Novo Mesto-based group entered the second half of the year in a sound financial condition, and the plan for the entire 2020 is to generate operating income of EUR 1.52 billion, and to increase net profit to EUR 210 million.

"Development of the coronavirus situation, spreading of the disease, its aftermaths, and the related measures of the affected nations are highly uncertain. We are therefore closely monitoring the situation and adapting accordingly in countries where we operate."

29 Jul 2020, 11:54 AM

STA, 29 July 2020 - Alfi, a Slovenian equity fund, has acquired over 80% of the debt owed by Tuš, one of the largest grocers in Slovenia, which it will convert into equity, the newspaper Delo reports.

The paper, which has obtained confirmation on the acquisition of the last block of claims against Tuš from Alfi, says a framework restructuring agreement to deleverage the grocer is to be signed this week.

About 10% of the claims against the grocer are held by British fund Anacap, Alfi's rival in the acquisition of the debt, and the rest by small creditors.

Delo says the latest transaction will step up Tuš's financial repair as the terms will be set by Alfi. The paper has learnt that the delaveraging is to be swift.

The plan is for the financial creditors to be allowed to convert debt into equity, which would give Alfi an ownership stake of 75% in Tuš, with the Tuš founder, Mirko Tuš, preserving 15-20%.

Another step in Tuš's restructuring is to be selling and then taking out a lease on its properties.

Mirko Tuš last year handed the company's management over to his son Andraž.

At the end of 2019, preventive restructuring was launched for the group, whose main line of business is retail with entertainment, recreation, hospitality and real estate as side lines of.

In 2018 the group fell from third to fourth place among Slovenia's largest grocers.

Since first Tuš shop was opened 30 years ago, the company developed into a group with 100 stores with more than 3,100 employees,  but became heavily indebted during the last financial crisis.

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