Business

05 Feb 2020, 12:45 PM

STA, 4 February 2020 - A business delegation led by state secretary at the Economic Development and Technology Ministry Aleš Cantarutti is visiting Japan this week. They kicked off their trip with visits to Yaskawa Electric, Kansai Paint and Daihen on Monday.

All three companies have already invested in Slovenia. Japanese investments have grown more than tenfold since 2013, reaching EUR 339.5 million in 2018, central bank data shows.

Slovenia classified Japan as a strategic priority market in its business internationalisation action plan in 2015, the Economy Ministry noted in a press release on Tuesday.

At Yaskawa Electric, which has a robotics plant in Kočevje, Cantarutti talked about business sentiment in Slovenia, adding that the country wished Yaskawa would continue investing in Kočevje.

Cantarutti also met Kunishi Mori, president of Kansai Paint, the owner of coatings maker Helios Domžale, the press release said. Cantarutti and Mori shared the view that Helios was an example of best practices in terms of launching new centres focusing on innovation and R&D.

The state secretary also invited Mori to the Bled Strategic Forum, the key foreign policy event in Slovenia, taking place in Bled every September.

At Daihen, the investor in the Lendava-based Varstroj Daihen, the company presented their beginnings to the delegation and showed it around the floor shop.

Cantarutti invited representatives of Yaskawa Electric, Kansai Paint and Daihen to visit the Slovenian House during the Olympics in Tokyo this summer.

The newspaper Delo said today that Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek had planned to lead the delegation. The head of the Modern Centre Party (SMC) changed his plans after Prime Minister Marjan Šarec resigned last week.

All our stories on Japan and Slovenia are here

04 Feb 2020, 15:36 PM

STA, 4 February 2020 - The Slovenian national postal operator has stopped accepting mail for China until further notice after its partner air carriers suspended flights to the country in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Until further notice, Pošta Slovenije will no longer accept letters and packages destined for China. Deliveries already on their way to China are expected to arrive with a delay, the company said.

An exception to the suspension of the service applies to UPS packages, but the senders are advised to check first whether delivery to the intended addresses is possible.

Most recent information is that deliveries cannot be accepted in Wuhan, the city and the region at the centre of the novelty coronavirus outbreak.

Fraport Slovenija, the company operating Ljubljana airport, has said that some exporters have had difficulties dispatching their deliveries because of suspension of air links with China.

Speaking with the STA, the company could not say what quantities had been affected.

"There have been many more air mail bags from China this year, which is delayed mail from last year due to overbooked capacities for Europe. The real picture will not be clear until next month."

Meanwhile, Pošta Slovenije is looking for substitute transport channels so as to be able to resume service and allow users to post all types of mail.

"The customers will be notified as soon as the possibility of mail acceptance is resorted," the postal company said in a press release on Tuesday.

Koper port says coronavirus to affect business, no measures adopted yet

STA, 4 February 2020 - Luka Koper, the operator of Slovenia's sole commercial port, has told the STA that the coronavirus situation is expected to affect transshipment volumes. Container cargo and vehicles are likely to be impacted the most, Luka Koper said, while explaining it had not yet received any instructions concerning potential health measures.

"The epidemic in China has gravely impacted production there and crippled services, including in logistics, which will sooner or later also be felt in Koper," the operator said.

While it is too early to say anything concrete, Luka Koper pointed out that some global logistics companies have already closed their distribution centres in China and that some shipowners are announcing the cancellation of certain scheduled lines.

"For the time being this does not involve the northern Adriatic or Koper but it is clear that the situation will affect transshipment volumes. Container cargo and vehicles are likely to be impacted the most," it announced.

As regards measures to contain the virus, Luka Koper explained that the monitoring of ships in Slovenia, including of the health situation of crews, is in the domain of the Slovenian Maritime Administration.

It is the duty of the captain of a ship to report any health conditions before entering the port and the report is forwarded by the Maritime Administration to the National Institute of Public Health.

The institute is also responsible for issuing instructions regarding any measures to the port, but Luka Koper said it had not received any so far.

04 Feb 2020, 15:08 PM

STA, 4 February 2020 - The bankruptcy estate of air carrier Adria Airways is worth EUR 6.23 million, of which EUR 3.15 million is the title to its office building at Ljubljana airport. Official receiver Janez Pustatičnik believes that due to its complexity, the receivership procedure is unlikely to be completed before the end of 2024.

The assets also include Adria's brand, the liquidation value of which is EUR 100,000, a flight simulator (EUR 93,000) and Adria's 100% stake in its flight school (EUR 133,500), according to an opening report Pustatičnik published on the website of the AJPES agency for legal records on Tuesday.

Among its assets are also the operating licences, foremost the air operator's certificate (AOC), but have already been sold; last month they were bought by Air Adriatic, a company owned by Slovenian entrepreneur Izet Rastoder, for EUR 45,000.

Inventories are estimated at over EUR 1 million, but since they have not yet been fully documented, their estimated value could still change.

The bankruptcy estate also features operating receivables to the tune of EUR 1.44 million, which have however already been recovered.

Pustatičnik assesses the receivership procedure as very complex and demanding, so it could be completed only at the end of 2024.

He sees litigations, numerous recoveries and other procedures expected to be launched in Slovenia and abroad as the main hurdle to bringing it to a close earlier.

Adria also has EUR 543,000 on a bank account, but it is kept there to pay a creditor, an issue currently subject to litigation, so it is not included into the bankruptcy estate.

It is not yet know how much exactly Adria owns creditors, since the deadline to report them has been extended until 2 March.

The opening report was also published today by Blaž Poljanšek, the official receiver of company Adria Airways Flight School, which puts the assets of the flight school at EUR 172,000.

The biggest assets are four sport planes, estimated at a total of EUR 109,000.

The flight school, which is eyed by the Pipistrel ultra-light plane manufacturer, also has a licence for training professional and sport pilots.

Creditors of Adria Airways Flight School have reported EUR 448,000 in claims, with Adria Airways being the biggest creditor with some EUR 111,000 in claims.

The state sold Slovenia's flag carrier Adria Airways to Germany's turnaround fund 4K Invest in 2016 for EUR 100,000 after recapitalising it with EUR 3.1 million.

The new owner was unable to give it a fresh impetus, so Adria was grounded last September after almost 60 years since establishment and filed for receivership.

03 Feb 2020, 15:36 PM

STA, 3 February 2020 - The Slovenian Business Club (SBC) presented on Monday a number of measures which it believes could mitigate the youth brain drain and improve the situation for the young in Slovenia. Politicians have welcomed the initiative, warning that any changes for the better would not occur overnight. 

The club's forum, held under the slogan Young are the Future of Enterprising Slovenia, heard that the young were pursuing career paths abroad in the hope of better opportunities. Between 2014 and 2018, almost 11,000 left Slovenia, studies show.

Moreover, housing is in a dire situation, posing another challenge for the young and consequently the future prosperity of country.

The club called for tax as well as business measures, presenting steps which would not only fight the brain drain but also entice young Slovenian immigrants to return to their homeland.

SBC head Marjan Batagelj said that Slovenia did not have an ecosystem which would keep the young or attract them there, pointing out that numerous countries had surpassed Slovenia by providing tax, welfare and housing benefits.

"Slovenia is simply observing while the Balkan pool, on which we like to depend, is getting depleted," said Batagelj.

The proposed measures include tax reliefs, such as untaxed performance bonuses worth up to 200% of the employee's average monthly wage, and ways to reduce taxable income for top experts.

Furthermore, the SBC proposes tax incentives for companies building workforce housing, establishing the right to employability information, introducing business courses in schools and turning Slovenia into a popular destination for foreign experts to fill in the labour shortage.

The forum was attended by senior politicians representing different points on a political spectrum. Addressing the event, President Borut Pahor highlighted the importance of strengthening the institutions of Slovenian statehood in the time of a booming economy.

He added that social dialogue was needed for any structural reforms improving the economic and social situations in the country and making it more attractive for the young.

Education Minister Jernej Pikalo meanwhile said that projects fostering business skills were already present in schools. Moreover, in the past two years, more people with a PhD moved to Slovenia than out of the country, show preliminary data of the Education Ministry.

The Labour Ministry is also working on mitigating the situation, preparing agreements with Turkey and Ukraine which would facilitate attracting foreign workforce.

03 Feb 2020, 12:22 PM

STA, 3 February 2010 - Car parts maker Hidria announced on Monday that it had developed innovative aluminium steering wheel system casings for next generation hybrid and electric BMW cars, winning a EUR 30 million contract running until 2030.

The casing is a part of a system allowing automatic vertical steering wheel adjustments for individual drivers.

Cars with this system will be available on the European market in three years, Hidria said in a press release, adding that it won the deal in strong international competition.

This deal and contracts for the manufacturing of key components of electric motors totalling to more than EUR 300 million and signed late last year will allow Hidria to develop and strengthen its position in global markets, the company said.

The press release added the company intended to invest more than EUR 50 million in innovation in the coming years and more than EUR 100 million in high-tech production capabilities.

02 Feb 2020, 17:14 PM

STA, 2 February 2020 - Energy company Gen-I will build the first major solar power plant in North Macedonia. The plant will be built and managed by Gen-I's subsidiary Sonce DOOEL Skopje. Construction is expected to start in early 2021.

North Macedonia will build the 35 Megawatt plant in Amzabegovo and Gen-I will set up panels for 17 Megawatts after winning a public tender.

The Slovenian company has also won the right to use the land for the production of solar power for 50 years, while the state of North Macedonia will provide all the necessary permits, Gen-I said in a press release.

GEN-I Sonce DOOEL Skopje is expected to launch construction at the beginning of 2021 and the power plant should start operating in early 2023. It is to produce 25,000 Megawatt hours of electricity a year.

According to Gen-I management member and CEO of GEN-I Sonce DOOEL Skopje, Igor Koprivnikar, the project is expected to open new opportunities in renewable energy sources production, sustainable energy services and create synergies in financial markets as well as long-term partnerships with investors.

The power plant in Amzabegovo is expected to supply clean electricity to North Macedonia as well as other markets in the region.

Related: Energy Group GEN Reports €2.2bn Revenue for 2019

01 Feb 2020, 11:10 AM

STA, 31 January 2020 - Representatives of the Slovenian companies that have offices or facilities in China told the STA on Friday they had no problems because of the coronavirus yet but they do fear the negative consequences that might follow after the New Year holidays in China are over. Fifteen Slovenian companies operate in China, according to Sloexport data.

Tool maker group Unior, which employs some 460 people in China, told the STA its facility was closed for the holidays at the moment and was expected to open again on 10 February.

The company does not feel any consequences of the epidemic yet and was maintaining business contacts via e-mail and WeChat.

Similarly, pharma company Krka, which operates in Ningbu, has suspended trips to China, as business partners there prolonged their New Year holidays.

Work in all of its business units was running smoothly because they had made enough stock before the holidays.

In the future, business contacts will be made via conference calls and e-mails.

Electronics group Iskra has a store with three employees in Hong Kong, which is operating without disturbances despite the fact that a part of its suppliers comes from China.

"We expect one- to two-week delay on the Chinese side," Iskra representatives told the STA, adding that problems would start if production halt would expand or be extended.

Andrej Boštjančič, the head of Softnet, a specialist in advanced communication technologies and services, which has four employees at its office in Shanghai, thinks the economic impact of the virus would be massive. "Production, transport will definitely be affected."

Today the Hong Kong postal operator announced it was temporarily halting a part of its postal service, he said. "It will all depend on how long all this will last," he said.

Its office will also be closed until 10 February and then they will do business via e-mail and phone.

Le-Tehnika's two companies in Suzhou, some 100 kilometres from Shanghai, employing a dozen people, producing phones and selling the company's Slovenian-made products, are also still closed for the holidays.

CEO Drago Lemut expects some delays in the supply of some materials.

The Chinese-owned household appliances maker Gorenje has not been affected by the epidemics but it did introduce some preventive measures. All employees who return from China will have to stay home for 14 days before coming to work again, the company said.

31 Jan 2020, 13:07 PM

STA, 30 January 2020 - Slovenia's national motorway company DARS and Turkish builder Cengiz signed on Thursday the master agreement on the construction of the second tube of the Karavanke motorway tunnel, a step that comes more than two years after the original tender was published. Works could start in March, weather permitting.

 "We're glad that after five rounds of appeals to the National Review Commission, we have finally signed the contract," DARS chairman Tomaž Vidic said.

Under the contract, Cengiz has 20 business days to submit a EUR 12 million bank guarantee, whereupon it will be able to start work.

Preliminary activities on the border tunnel - Austria has already made significant progress on its portion of the second tube - are to be initiated next week as DARS and Austrian motorway operator Asfinag meet to discuss the timeline.

Vidic said this was a five-year endeavour and problems may appear on either side of the border, which is why he would not venture to speculate whether Cengiz could catch up with the builder working on the Austrian section, which started works in September 2018.

"We think the problems are manageable. We have a skilled builder with a wealth of experience, which is key," he said.

Cengiz board member Asim Cengiz said Slovenian companies would be involved in the construction works. Talks with potential partners are already under way.

The contract is worth EUR 98.6 million VAT excluded and covers construction of 3,546 metres of tunnel on the Slovenian side of the border. The Austrian section is almost a kilometre longer.

Once the second tube is completed, the original tunnel, which entered service in 1991, will be closed for approximately two years for significant renovation and upgrade works.

Karavanke tunnel is one of the main transport routes between Slovenia and Austria. It is a key artery for cargo and one of the main entry points for millions of north European tourists en route to the Adriatic Sea.

31 Jan 2020, 12:34 PM

STA, 30 January 2020 - The group around the Novo Mesto-based drug maker Krka generated EUR 1.49 billion in sales revenue in 2019, or 12% more than in the year before, while net profit was up 39% to EUR 242 million, according to an estimate released by the management board on Thursday.

The group's operating profit was up by 18% to EUR 274 million, and pre-tax profit increased by 40% to EUR 283.7 million.

The core company generated EUR 1.39 billion in sales revenue, up 13% from 2018, and net profit more than doubled to EUR 248.1 million.

Last year, the Krka group generated EUR 481.2 million or 32.3% of total sales in East Europe, the largest market for Krka, with sales there increasing by 17% year-on-year. In Russia alone, sales were up by 13% to EUR 310.5 million.

Central Europe, comprising the Visegrad Group and the Baltic states, followed with EUR 339.6 million, or 22.8% of total Krka group sales. Sales there were up by 7% compared to the year before.

Sales to West Europe amounted to EUR 336 million or 22.6% of total sales, and were up by 17% compared to 2018. Germany, the Scandinavian countries, Spain, and Italy generated the strongest sales in the region.

With sales of EUR 191.3 million, South-East Europe represented a 12.8% share in total Krka group sales, and saw a 9% rise compared to the year before. Romania and Croatia were the largest markets, while the highest sales growth was recorded in Bulgaria and Serbia.

In Slovenia, sales were up by 4% to EUR 92.4 million, accounting for 6.2% of total sales. Product sales stood at EUR 52.9 million, while health resorts and tourist services yielded EUR 39.5 million.

In the overseas markets, the Krka group generated EUR 48.6 million in product sales, a 12% growth, which is 3.3% of total sales.

Commenting on the results, Krka chairman Jože Colarič noted that the group had posted its best sales result ever. Growth of sales was recorded in all regions and on the majority of markets, and sales were up in all groups of products and services, he added.

According to Colarič, the group plans to generate EUR 1.52 billion in sales and more than EUR 210 million in net profit this year. A total of EUR 134 million has been earmarked for investment in 2020, mostly in production and infrastructure.

Last year investments amounted to EUR 113 million, of which EUR 93 million was invested in the core company. Most of the funds went for modernisation of production and research, quality assurance and production and distribution centres.

In 2020, Krka plans to increase the workforce in Slovenia and abroad by a total of 3%, and is expected to have more than 12,300 employees at the end of the year, said Colarič.

The unaudited financial statements for 2019 for the group and core company will be published on 19 March, Krka said.

30 Jan 2020, 10:05 AM

STA, 29 January 2020 - The management of the Steklarna Rogaška glassworks announced on Wednesday the company would lay off up to 200 of what are presently 830 workers. It spoke of the need to increase efficiency in the face of constant changes in consumer habits and in the business environment.

The Finnish-owned company told the STA that the wish was to protect and support the very core of the glassworks and that it would closely cooperate with the workers and their representatives as the cut is made in the coming months.

Supply chain executive Mogens Hansen said this had been a very difficult decision and that the company would do all it can to provide support for the affected workers.

Announcing continuing investment, the management is confident Steklarna Rogaška, a company established in 1927, will remain an important centre for the manufacture of high-end crystal products.

Steklarna Rogaška became part of the Finnish corporation Fiskars in 2015. Fiskars has a 7,300-strong workforce in 30 countries.

29 Jan 2020, 10:49 AM

STA, 28 January 2020 - Lonstroff, the Swiss subsidiary of Sumitomo Rubber Industries, launched elastomer production in Logatec this month. Currently, the facility employs almost 40 people, with the company planning to expand its capacities and workforce by additional 50 in two months' time, reported the newspaper Finance on Tuesday.

Lonstroff, which launched test production in April last year, said at the start of the facility's construction that it planned to employ 180 people in total.

The company currently operates only one shift in Logatec since Lonstroff is waiting for buyers' approval of products, said Matjaž Klipšteter of the communication management agency Taktik on behalf of Lonstroff, adding that this procedure could take a while.

The investment in Logatec reached a price tag of EUR 48 million, with Slovenia providing up to 10% of this sum.

But even before the facility started operating, the real-estate deal for the plots on which the plant was built was in the centre of scandal involving the bad bank, and is being investigated.

The plots, owned by the bad bank, ended up in Lonstroff's hands only after the bad bank sold them to a real estate agency, which charged Lonstroff a lot more than it paid for the plots to the bad bank.

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