21 Feb 2020, 09:38 AM

STA, 20 February 2020 - The government has adopted a decree establishing a public company which will be the sole provider of maritime piloting services in the port of Koper, and which will be operated by Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH), the state asset custodian.

Under the decree, maritime piloting in Slovenia's sole maritime port will be provided as a public utility service and the government will be able to price the service on its own.

The service is currently provided by the private company Piloti Koper, whose workers threatened the management with a strike in early 2019, demanding greater safety at work through additional hirings and pilot boats, as well as higher wages.

The government said after Thursday's correspondence session that it wanted to "provide undisturbed and permanent maritime piloting service, which is currently provided as a monopolist activity on the market, and avoid navigation safety risks, pollution and economic damage".

The decree was adopted after SSH approved at the beginning of the month the annual maritime piloting management plan, drafted based on a government decision from last summer.

The plan was prompted by "risks related to the existing manner in which the service is provided," the government said, adding that maritime piloting was the responsibility of the state.

The Ministry of Infrastructure said at the beginning of February that the maritime code had been stipulating since 2010 that the state must establish a public company which would perform such service under a concession contract.

"The ministry is thus realising the legislative provision which has not been implemented yet," it told the STA at the time.

The government decree follows warnings about two employees of Piloti Koper who have pointed to the difficult working conditions and staff shortage receiving contract termination threats.

The trade union of crane operators at Luka Koper has also warned that the management of Piloti Koper, despite the strike-averting agreement reached in April 2019, continues repressing, mobbing, harassing and mistreating employees.

The company responded by saying that the developments did not affect the quality, safety and continuity of the service, and that the trade union was only trying to create an alleged state of emergency at the port of Koper.

19 Feb 2020, 15:42 PM

STA, 19 February 2020 - As of today, Slovenian companies are able to do business on Amazon Europe, which comes after a delay as the US tech company had to make technical adjustments to include Slovenia among supported countries, the Slovenian Ministry of Economic Development and Technology has announced.

The start of operations for Slovenian companies on Amazon Europe had been announced for last year, but the ministry said that the deadline has been moved forward in order to provide better user experience.

Last year the ministry worked intensively with Amazon to enable Slovenian firms to do business on Amazon Europe's e-commerce platform as soon as possible, it added.

The ministry said last April that the Amazon Europe platform would be enabled for Slovenian companies soon, but then said at the end of August that the operations would start in November 2019.

"Amazon had envisaged that all required technical solutions will be implemented in the third quarter of last year, but there was a delay in order to establish a better user experience for the participating companies."

The ministry has called on all interested companies to utilise the new e-commerce channel to place their products on the market, labelling Amazon the largest such channel in the world and an exceptional opportunity for Slovenian companies.

19 Feb 2020, 11:19 AM

STA, 18 February 2020 - The business newspaper Finance has reported that the energy company Petrol will acquire E3, the subsidiary of the power distributor Elektro Primorska which is one of the largest electricity sellers in the country. The acquisition would bring Petrol's share on the electricity retail market up to 20%.

According to Tuesday's report in Finance, the sale has been approved by the supervisors of Elektro Primorska, and the contract is expected to be signed by the end of February.

Petrol responded with a posting on the website of the Ljubljana Stock Exchange saying it had been chosen as the most favourable bidder to buy E3 and was continuing talks on the company's acquisition.

Finance reported in its online edition that Petrol would pay roughly EUR 15 million for E3. The value of the deal is not known officially.

Elektro Primorska distributes electricity in south-western, western and north-western Slovenia, covering around 22% of the country's territory.

It had decided to sell the electricity retailer E3 because Elektro Primorska provides a public utility service and must not finance commercial activities, Finance explained.

The buyer of the subsidiary will have to meet certain conditions, including preserving the brand, the current number of employees and the seat in Nova Gorica, and further developing the company.

By selling E3, Elektro Primorska will get out of the electricity retail business, and meet one of the formal criteria for obtaining concession for a system operator for the distribution network in the region of Primorska.

In the past, the plan was to merge the energy distributor ECE and E3 under the wing of the state-owned power utility HSE, but it failed as the market regulator said this would violate market concentration rules.

Elektro Primorska continued with the procedure to offload E3, with Gen-I, Petrol and HSE submitting bids, and the fuel retailer being selected as the most favourable bidder.

E3 has a 11% market share in Slovenia, and an even higher, 15% share, in the sale of electricity to households. This makes it the fourth largest electricity retailer in the country.

According to Finance, the acquisition brings Petrol's share on the electricity retail market up to 20%, while its market share in the supply of households will reach almost 25%.

18 Feb 2020, 17:23 PM

STA, 18 February 2020 - The Trade Union of Journalists and the Journalists' Association (DNS) issued a protest on Tuesday against the ongoing layoffs at Delo, the largest newspaper publisher in the country. The two organisations say the management is abusing social dialogue and demolishing the newspaper and Slovenian journalism.

The first pink slips were issued at Delo on Tuesday as part of a programme that last envisaged 11 layoffs along with 94 contract terminations tied to a new contract offer, the press release says.

The trade union and DNS claim the management is laying people off in a way that is at odds with the law and social dialogue requirements.

They said that 16 workers had already left by mutual agreement in fear of layoffs before 15 January, meaning that not 11 but 27 workers will end up leaving.

Thus, the leading media company in the country in the field of printed media will have shed a quarter of its workforce within three years, the two organisations said, noting that Delo has practically given up on its entire network of correspondents.

Delo, which first announced the latest layoffs last October when it highlighted a drop in sales of newspapers and magazines, and advertising revenue, confirmed it had laid off seven journalists and photographers today.

It however rejected the accusations, saying the Trade Union of Journalists as well as the Pergam trade union confederation had been included in the talks.

The management tried to consider social criteria to the greatest extent possible and adopted a number of measures to mitigate the consequences of the layoffs, Delo said, while arguing reorganisation was inevitable.

As for the reproach that the paper and access to quality information were being undermined, Delo said its workforce was still larger than envisaged by international standards and that concerns that content would suffer were unjustified.

Securing a sustainable business model in the changing situation in the media market, especially for printed media, requires adjustments and this must not be seen as something that undercuts the social role media play in democracy.

Delo already said in October that new media technologies and reading habits, which changed drastically in the last decade, affect media operations. It adding that printed media sales were dropping globally, while people's readiness to pay for on-line media contents remained low.

At the time, Delo employed 322 people, of whom 150 were journalists.

The circulation of papers issued by Delo - its namesake broadsheet, weeklies Nedelo and Nedeljske Novice, tabloid Slovenske Novice, and magazines Ona+ and Suzy - dropped by almost 2,000 a paper on average in 2018.

The most popular is Slovenske Novice, which was issued in 48,516 copies a day on average in 2018, which compares to 53,404 in 2017.

The circulation of the broadsheet Delo dropped from 27,116 to 25,512 in 2018, Delo's audited business report suggested.

The publisher Delo recorded EUR 34.9 million in net sales revenue in 2018, a 5% drop from 2017. Net profit shrunk by 46% to EUR 598,000. Operating profit stood at EUR 857,700, which is 30% less than the year before.

18 Feb 2020, 12:11 PM

STA, 18 February 2020 - With the acquisition of the logistics company Intereuropa finalised, the national postal operator Pošta Slovenije plans to further expand on the markets of the Southeast Europe and make EUR 195 million in investments in the next six years.

The company said on Tuesday, after its strategic development programme through 2025 was recently confirmed by Slovenian Sovereign Holding, that EUR 457 million in revenue was expected to be generated as early as this year.

The new strategy takes into consideration the steep growth of global e-commerce, technological progress, changed habits and expectations of users and liberalisation of postal service market, which puts an emphasis on modern technologies, digitalisation, automation and e-commerce.

Boris Novak, the chairman of the state-owned company, said that Pošta Slovenije would focus its logistics and parcel services on the markets of the Southeast Europe, which was expected to result in further growth of the entire group.

One of the key points of the development programme, which is expected to secure balanced growth and profitability over the next six years, is further expansion in Southeast Europe, which was made possible with last year's acquisition of Intereuropa.

The plan envisages a total of EUR 195 million in investments until 2025 in Pošta Slovenije and Intereuropa, which employ a combined 8,000 people. The bulk of funds will go for automation and digitalisation in postal logistic centres and in transport, as well as for expanding capacities.

"We will also invest a lot in energy efficiency and sustainable development, both in terms of the car fleet and energy efficiency of the network and buildings," added assistant director Vesna Kos Tomažič.

The company will continue to optimise the postal network, and expects that its network at the end of 2025 will feature a combination of its own postal offices, franchise offices, self-service parcel terminals and other solutions.

Pošta Slovenije wants to become a leading provider of parcel distribution services in Slovenia, and it plans to generate more than half of its revenue with logistics and parcel services as early as this year.

16 Feb 2020, 10:06 AM

Ex-Yu Aviation reports that events surrounding last year’s collapse of Adria Airways are now under investigation by the Slovenian police, who are looking into suspected abuse of office and fraud. Adria was last owned by a Luxembourg based German fund, 4K Invest, which liquidated a number of affiliated companies after the carrier’s collapse, making investigations of the circumstances more complicated. What’s more, 4K itself has closed its website and cut off its phone lines, as well as disappearing from business registries in a number of companies

The whole story is worth a read, and although no specific allegations are being made yet by the police, there are enough odd facts and suspect actions to raise questions as to whether 4K was ever sincere in its wish to run Adria Airways, and why the Slovenian government did not choose to find a strategic partner within the aviation industry.

All our stories on Adria Airways are here

14 Feb 2020, 12:29 PM

STA, 13 February 2020 - Bia Separations, a world leader in the development of purification processes for biologics, in particular for gene therapy, is launching a EUR 6 million investment into expansion of its production facilities in Ajdovščina in March. Major investments are also planned in the US and Canada.

The facilities in Ajdovščina will be five times bigger after the EUR 6 million investment, which will be funded entirely from the company's surplus.

"We will introduce second-generation production lines and the possibility of making products of larger volume. We are creating about 100 new jobs," said CEO Aleš Štrancar about the plans for Ajdovščina.

Construction work is to be completed at the beginning of next year.

The company also plans to build production facilities in its most important market, North America, where Bia Separations has been recording high demand.

The construction of the facility, which will be three- to four-times bigger than the new, expanded facility in Ajdovščina, is expected to start in 2022 and conclude by the end of 2023.

According to Štrancar, the company generates 80% of revenue in North America. "Buyers expect our production of the key products they use in their production of medicines and vaccines to be as close to them as possible and not depend on the extremely unpredictable business environment and the increasingly uncertain transport routes," he said.

The management presented the plans for expansion into North America in detail to US Ambassador to Slovenia Lynda C. Blanchard on Wednesday.

The ambassador invited the company to get in touch with US institutions and offered the Embassy's help in the strengthening and expanding of its presence on the US market.

Last year, Bia Separations completed court-mandated debt-restructuring early and its revenue doubled to EUR 12 million. The plan for this year is EUR 25 million in revenue.

You can learn more about the company on its website

13 Feb 2020, 13:01 PM

STA, 13 February 2020 - The European Commission has kept Slovenia's economic forecast unchanged at 2.7% for 2020 and 2021, more than double the eurozone average. In its winter 2020 forecast released on Thursday, it said consumption and investment are expected to continue growing while net exports are set to "weigh on growth over the forecast horizon".

Net exports are expected to have a positive impact, but their contribution to headline growth will be slightly lower due to lower export demand growth and robust import growth.

Private consumption is expected to remain strong in the next two years provided the employment rate remains high and wages keep on rising.

Investment growth is also forecast to continue apace, albeit at a slightly lower rate than in 2019 due to weaker economic confidence.

The Commission has also said that housing investment is expected to start growing due to recent increases in house prices. Moreover, commercial real estate and public investments are projected to continue increasing as well.

Meanwhile, higher wages will drive up inflation, in particular in the services segment. "Overall, consumer price inflation is forecast at 1.9% in 2020 and 2% in 2021", up from 1.7% in the second half of 2019.

13 Feb 2020, 11:02 AM

STA, 12 February 2020 - The European Commission has issued a letter of formal notice to Slovenia and seven other member states for failing to transpose the 5th anti-money laundering directive. Anti-money laundering rules are "instrumental in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing," the Commission said on Wednesday.

It added that recent money laundering scandals had revealed the need for stricter rules at EU level and that legislative gaps in one member state had an impact on the EU as a whole.

EU member states were obligated to transpose the directive by 10 January, however, Slovenia, as well as Cyprus, Hungary, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Spain, failed to do so.

Unless the countries fail to provide a satisfactory response to the Commission within 2 months, the Commission will send them reasoned opinions, after which they get another two months to act or else face the European Court of Justice.

In December, Slovenia's National Assembly passed changes to the act on anti-money laundering and terrorism financing, transposing into Slovenian legislation the 4th anti-money laundering directive adopted by the Commission in 2016.

The Finance Ministry meanwhile said that it had stepped up efforts to draft the needed legislation after receiving the formal notice. The ministry expects the draft changes to be filed in government procedure shortly.

12 Feb 2020, 14:25 PM

STA, 12 February 2020 - Slovenian companies wondering about the future relationship with their UK partners after Brexit were assured at an event held by the British Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and the British Embassy on Wednesday that Britons wanted to preserve the close business ties.

The UK exited the EU at the beginning of the month after 47 years of membership. The terms of trade will remain unchanged until the transition period expires at the end of the year, while talks on new relations are to start soon, UK Ambassador to Slovenia Sophie Honey told the event.

"We would like for us to continue to grow together," she said, noting the countries' close cooperation in many fields, from construction to banking and advanced technologies, with the volume of business between the two countries increasing by more than 10% over the past three years.

Honey believes that an agreement on the future relationship between the UK and the EU is feasible by the end of the transition period. The UK is keen to reach a free trade agreement similar to the one between the EU and Canada.

Tim Abraham, deputy director at the UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said that now was the opportunity to prepare for the changed terms and conditions setting in as the UK exits the single market and customs union at the end of 2020.

Abraham, who would like for the close business ties to be preserved, noted that many of the businesses present at the event today already do business with countries outside the EU, saying that doing business with the UK on new terms would not be much different than that.

Zoran Stančič, the head of the European Commission's office in Slovenia, assured business representatives present that procedures would be run transparently and that businesses would get all the necessary information.

"However, the path ahead won't be easy, eleven months is little time," he said, adding that the European Commission had high ambitions for the future relationship with the UK. He said that the transition period could be extended by a year or two if the talks did not develop the way both sides wanted.

Tjaša Redek, a professor from the Ljubljana Faculty of Economics, presented an analysis which showed that Brexit would have only limited impact on Slovenia, with the negative impact on GDP growth projected at up to 0.03% in a decade.

Data for 2018 show that Slovenian companies exported EUR 577 million in goods and services to the UK, importing EUR 441 million.

The analysis also showed that Slovenian companies do not expect substantial negative consequences of Brexit, but they are preparing for the changes nonetheless and many are eyeing new markets.

All our stories on Brexit and Slovenia are here

11 Feb 2020, 09:20 AM

STA, 10 February 2020 - Slovenia's industrial output increased by 3% last year, the sixth consecutive year of growth. The output in December was 1% higher than in the same month a year ago but 1.8% lower than in November.

Fresh data from the Statistics Office show an annual growth in the value of industrial production, stocks and turnover in industry.

The 3% growth rate in industrial output last year is a slowdown compared to the 5% growth rate recorded in 2018 and a six-year high rate of 8.4% in 2017.

industrial output slovenia 2020.JPG

The growth was driven by a 3.4% growth in manufacturing, while the electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply sector and mining and quarrying contracted by 0.8% and 3.6%, respectively.

Industrial turnover increased by 2.3%, owing to a 3.1% growth in the foreign market and a 1% growth in the domestic market. Sales revenue rose across all main industrial groupings, the most in consumer goods industries, at 4.5%.

In December, industrial turnover was 1.8% lower than in November and 1.5% higher than in December 2018.

The value of stocks rose by 4.1% last year. In December their value fell by 0.5% compared to the month before but rose by 2.9% year-on-year.

More on the data can be found here

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