01 Jun 2022, 07:58 AM

STA, 31 May 2020 - The upper Vipava Valley had been looking at an exceptional harvest of cherries this year, but the plans of local fruit growers were thwarted by the strong bora wind, which virtually swept away the ripened cherries, also tearing down branches and young cherry trees.

Fruit growers in the area in western Slovenia had it the worst on Saturday and Sunday, but they nevertheless expect that the unripened cherries will recover from the bora attack and fully develop.

"The damage is immense. As for the ripe cherries, the bora swept them across the ground and destroyed them," Bogdan Slokar, a fruit grower from Lokavec near Ajdovščina, has told the STA.

"We hope that the cherries that are still ripening will recover," said Slokar, who assessed that the bora has destroyed about 80% of the ripe cherries in the area.

Marta Koruza of the counselling service of the local agricultural and forestry chamber said that the "bora did what we had feared the most - extensive damage to cherries that were fully ripening".

She noted that the cherries were dented and as such were not appropriate for sale, which was a great loss for the growers.

The strong wind has also done some damage to cherries in exposed areas in the hilly Goriška Brda area north-west of Nova Gorica. Local growers hope that the late varieties will be able to ripen normally.

The disaster comes right before the Cherry Festival is to be held in the upper Vipava Valley and Goriška Brda over the upcoming weekend.

31 May 2022, 10:39 AM

STA, 30 May 2022 - A 45-year-old Koper man wanted in Slovenia since 2015 for swindling the NLB bank out of more than half a million euro has been arrested in Rijeka, Croatia, and is now awaiting extradition to Slovenia, a Croatian news portal has reported.

The Croatian police confirmed the man's arrest last week, explaining the person had been wanted on an international arrest warrant since 2015 on suspicion of committing corporate crime.

The news portal, which first reported about the arrest, identified the man as Aleš Semolič of Koper.

Semolič is suspected of fraud whereby he cheated NLB bank out of EUR 569,741 in collusion with four other suspects.

One of the most wanted Slovenians on the run, he was reportedly last spotted in the areas of Ljubljana and Croatia's Rovinj in 2015.

28 May 2022, 14:44 PM

STA, 28 May 2022 - As economies recover post-Covid, taxes on wages went up last year in two-thirds of countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), including Slovenia.

In Slovenia, the tax rate on a monthly wage of an individual without children reached 43.6%, while the EU average is 34.6%. Slovenia thus ranked sixth among 38 countries, up two spots from the year before. The list is topped by Belgium with a 52.6% share, while Columbia had zero rate.

The share of taxes and contributions in monthly wages of citizens without children went up in 24 of 38 countries, decreased in 12 countries and was flat in two. In Slovenia, it went up by 0.5 percentage points.

Families with two children and only one employed person in 27 countries saw the tax rate increase. In ten countries, the tax rate deceased and was level in one. In Slovenia, it was at 29.5%, while the OECD average was 24.6%.

See more on this data

20 May 2022, 11:18 AM

STA, 20 May 2022 - The energy group Petrol reported on Friday that its sales revenue in the first quarter of the year more than doubled year-on-year to EUR 1.94 billion, while net profit was up by 17% to EUR 32.4 million. The rise is largely attributed to the incorporation of the Croatian fuel retailer Crodux into the group.

In the first quarter of the year, the group's adjusted gross profit amounted to EUR 162.2 million, an increase of 18% year-on-year, Petrol said in a press release as it issued the quarterly report.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) amounted to EUR 65.6 million, or 21% more year-on-year, mostly due to the incorporation of Crodux and good results in electricity trading.

In the EBITDA structure, 37% was represented by fuels and fuel products, 13% by merchandise and services, 47% by energy and solutions and 3% by other revenue.

In the first three months of the year, the group sold 906,400 tonnes of fuels and fuel products, a year-on-year increase of 41%.

As a result of the incorporation of Crodux, the share of sales in Slovenia in the structure of fuels and fuel product sales decreased, whereas the share of sales in the South-east Europe markets increased.

Petrol said that in line with the law instructing the government to reimburse losses as a result of fuel price caps, the company had submitted a claim to the government amounting to EUR 51.3 million for the period from 15 March and 30 April.

The Economy Ministry responded to this, noting that the law gave the government this option not obligation. In line with it, the government "can determine an appropriate reimbursement", it said.

The government will decide on this reimbursement based on the standards and criteria yet to be adopted, the ministry explained.

Fuel retailers have been sending its estimates of the damage at their own initiative but "these estimates do not count as official claims, as legal requirements for them have not been met yet", the ministry said.

The Petrol group generated EUR 101.5 million in sales of merchandise and services, which is a drop of 21% year-on-year, with the main reason being the national motorway company DARS switching to an electronic tolling system.

The group also sold 5.7 TWh of natural gas, 2.9 TWh of electricity and 83.7 thousand MWh of heating energy in the first quarter of the year. Investments at the group level amounted to EUR 8.2 million in the first three months of the year.

At the end of March, the group had 6,162 employees, 593 service stations and 323 electric vehicle charging stations, including 318 service stations in Slovenia, 202 in Croatia, 42 in Bosnia-Herzegovina, 16 in Serbia and 15 in Montenegro.

"The group has performed successfully in the challenging business situation caused by the energy crisis and the situation in Ukraine," the report says, adding that the management had properly responded to recent developments.

It notes that the group does not have subsidiaries or representation offices in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, and that the share of revenue generated in these markets is negligible, as is the purchase of energy, except for natural gas.

Russia as a source of supply of diesel and extra light heating oil represented 7% of the purchase portfolio in this segment in 2021 and this year, while Petrol does not import petrol from Russia.

The main risk this year is the negative effects of the energy crisis on inflation and, consequently, on growth of the costs of living and management of operating costs.

Last year, Petrol generated EUR 4.96 billion in sales revenue and posted a net profit of EUR 124.5 million at the group level. It plans to generate EUR 5.9 billion in sales revenue and EUR 158.3 million in net profit this year.

19 May 2022, 11:57 AM

STA, 18 May 2022 - The Slovenian property market saw a record year in 2021 in terms of increase in prices and the number of transactions involving land for residential buildings, with the commercial property market also being revived. The Surveying and Mapping Authority (Geodetska uprava) has reported more than 37,000 transactions worth a total of EUR 2.9 billion.

The number of transactions in apartments and houses increased by about 20% last year compared to 2020 and was higher than the figure for the pre-epidemic year 2019.

The increase mainly owes to the record sales of houses, caused by the growing demand for houses outside urban centres, shows the report by the Surveying and Mapping Authority on the Slovenian property market for 2021.

Last year, the market for land for residential construction "virtually exploded", the report says, noting that compared to 2020, the number of transactions in land for houses and multi-apartment buildings was up by approximately 45%.

In the tourist centres in the Slovenian Alps, the number was up by more than 80%, in the southern suburbs of Ljubljana by about two-thirds, in Ljubljana and Celje by about 60% and in Maribor by about 45%.

According to the report, the record number of land transactions is expected to be followed by an accelerated expansion of housing construction, which has in the last three years been notable in the capital, but also in other parts of the country.

Prices of apartments in multi-apartment buildings increased by 15% last year, while prices of houses were up by 13%. Land for construction of residential buildings was meanwhile 12% more expensive than in 2020.

The growth in prices of residential property is the result of excess demand, with the supply of new buildings gradually catching up, the reports says.

The high demand for residential property for own use, and especially as an investment, is still being largely driven by low interest rates and accessibility of loans, and, more recently, by the growing fears of increased inflation.

Putting additional pressure on the property prices is the high growth of construction costs due to the global rise in energy prices and building materials due to the Covid-19 pandemic and, as of recently, the war in Ukraine.

The report notes that, considering the prices and the volume of new construction in Ljubljana, a peak of the property cycle is near, as the market supply will exceed demand that could be backed by solvency and sales will be slowing down.

A general decline in demand for residential property could also be triggered by a rise in interest rates that is expected in the near future, while a turnaround in the price trend is not expected until supply exceeds demand.

The report notes that the number of transactions with commercial property increased by approximately 30% last year, but the number was nevertheless still some 10% lower than in the pre-Covid year 2019.

A PDF of the full report, in Slovene, can be found here

18 May 2022, 11:59 AM

STA, 17 May 2022 - The Bank Assets Management Company (BAMC) announced it had sold its outright stake in footwear maker Alpina to K&H, a Czech company that is part of the Franco de Poisd'eau & CIE group, for an as yet undisclosed amount.

The buyer has been picked not just because it submitted the best financial offer but also because of a thorough development strategy, BAMC said on Tuesday.

The new owner has already presented its plans to the management and workers as it announced that it will focus on restructuring improvements in production and sales, and the development of the Alpina brand.

"Alpina is an established and sought-after brand, as evident from great demand by potential buyers. The new owner has recognised this potential and has bold development plans," BAMC chairman Franci Matoz was quoted as saying.

Franco group owner František Pivoda added that Alpina was purchased because it was a strong and high-quality brand that has a strong position, especially in the sports segment.

"We're convinced that the purchase has great potential for growth," he said, adding that the brand would remain unchanged but its identity would be upgraded.

"We are confident that under the new leadership, numerous opportunities will open for the Alpina group, opportunities that a brand as renowned as Alpina deserves," said Alpina supervisory board president Sebastian Cafuta.

Jure Krivina, the chair of Alpina's works council, said the first impressions were good and the covenants provided by the representatives of K&H show they understand Alpina's role as a traditional brand and local employer.

The purchase price has not been revealed but earlier media reports indicate K&H offered EUR 20 million, well above the EUR 17 million offered by Slovenian sports goods maker Elan.

Alpina generated EUR 44.7 million in revenue 2021 while posting a loss of EUR 0.9 million, considerably lower than the 4 million recorded in 2020.

The bad bank took a majority stake in Alpina in 2015, whereupon it converted nearly EUR 20 million in debt to equity and secured loans totalling EUR 24 million.

Alpina is best known for winter footwear and is a major global producer of shoes for cross-country running. It also owns the stylish Peko brand.

16 May 2022, 12:18 PM

STA, 16 May 2022 - Slovenia met 53% of its energy needs with domestic energy sources last year, which makes an improvement of two percentage points compared with 2020, Statistics Office data shows. The country depended fully on imports for petroleum products.

Total amount of domestic energy sources last year was 3.3 million tonnes of oil equivalent (TOE), which is 9% less than in 2020.

The country's total primary energy supply was 6.4 million TOE, up by 0.2% from 2020.

Petroleum products represented 31% of the energy supplied, followed by nuclear energy (23%), renewable energy sources, including hydro energy (19%), coal (15%) and natural gas (12%).

16 May 2022, 10:53 AM

STA, 16 May 2022 - Slovenia's economy expanded at an annual nominal rate of 9.8% in the first quarter of this year driven by household spending and capital expenditure. The seasonally adjusted rate was 9.6%. At the quarterly level GDP was up by 0.8%, a significant slowdown compared to the 5.3% recorded in the previous quarter, the Statistics Office said on Monday.

Domestic consumption increased by 16.6% year-on-year with household expenditure up by 20% as the main driver of growth. Gross fixed capital formation increased by 12.7%. Changes of inventories had a positive impact on GDP growth as well.

External trade, for years the main engine of growth, has exerted a negative impact on GDP since the start of the pandemic due to surging imports and the trend remained unchanged in the first quarter.

With imports up by 15.7% and exports increasing by only 7.7% year-on-year, the contribution of external trade balance to GDP growth was negative again, shaving 5.6 percentage points off GDP growth.

Total value added increased by 9.3% over the first quarter of 2021. Trade, transport, and accommodation and food service activities grew by 21.8% and contributed the most to the structure of total value added. Construction increased by 16.7%.

Services continued to grow strong in the first quarter, while manufacturing growth slowed for the third consecutive quarter but remained positive, at 3.9%. Net taxes contributed significantly to GDP growth as they grew by 13.2% over the same period last year.

The payrolls total rose by 3.3% to 1,073,000 persons. The bulk of the new jobs were created in accommodation and food service activities, manufacturing, and construction.

16 May 2022, 10:50 AM

STA, 16 May 2022 - Home appliances producer Gorenje, which is part of the Hisense Europe group, has overtaken drug makers Lek and Krka to become the country's biggest exporter in 2021, with exports totalling almost two billion euros, according to data gathered by Delo.

Lek is in second place with EUR 1.59 billion and Krka right behind with exports worth EUR 1.47 billion. The only other company to break the one-billion mark is the Renault-owned car assembly plant Revoz with EUR 1.18 billion.

Revoz saw its export revenue decrease compared to 2021, whereas Lek and Krka posted solid gains and Gorenje reported an increase in exports of over 70% on the year before.

"In the first Covid year in 2020 there was a disastrous decline in orders, but in 2021 orders in the white goods segment surged. None of these years was typical. Demand is already tapering off this year," Gorenje said.

Steel group SIJ is in fifth place with EUR 820 million worth of exports, followed closely by aluminium producer Impol (EUR 800 million).

The top ten is rounded off by Caravan maker Adria Mobil (EUR 538 million), home appliances maker BSH Hišni Aparati (EUR 535), the industrial conglomerate Kolektor (EUR 351 million) and Mahle Electric Drives (EUR 324 million).

12 May 2022, 13:09 PM

STA, 12 May 2022 - There were a record 24,600 job vacancies in the first quarter of the year in Slovenia, up 6% from the fourth quarter last year and almost 50% more than in the same quarter in 2021, the Statistics Office (SURS) said on Thursday.

"The number of vacancies thus reached the highest level since this survey was launched in 2008. Vacancies grew from one quarter to another throughout 2021, continuing into the start of this year," SURS said.

Stronger demand for new workers was recorded in most sectors; compared to the fourth quarter last year, construction companies had almost 5,400 vacancies in the first quarter of this year, up 710, with 50% more jobs advertised in the IT sector.

Employers in other miscellaneous activities were meanwhile slightly more reserved to seeking new workers in quarter-one, with fewer than 1,800 jobs available, a drop of nearly 600.

The annual comparison for the entire country shows that demand for new labour increased by 49%, which translates into 8,100 more vacancies; the biggest rise was recorded in construction, which had 2,200 more vacancies.

"The annual comparison shows that this time there was more demand than a year ago in all sectors except mining and public administration," SURS wrote.

The vacancy rate meanwhile exceeded 3% for the first time in January-March, reaching a record 7.6% in construction, more than double the Slovenian average.

10 May 2022, 17:06 PM

STA, 10 May 2022 -  The government reintroduced price caps on motor fuels on Tuesday, setting the maximum retail prices at EUR 1.560 a litre for regular petrol and EUR 1.668 a litre for diesel. Wholesale prices are capped at EUR 1.540 for regular and EUR 1.648 for diesel. The caps will come into effect on Wednesday.

A release issued after the cabinet's correspondence session said the government reintroduced temporary administrative pricing for the two most popular fuels in view of the well-founded expectations of further disruptions in the market of oil products and significant price volatility in response to the planned EU embargo on Russian oil imports.

The Economy Ministry also said the measure was aimed at stabilising the market and prices for the benefit of businesses and consumers.

The regulation imposing the caps requires of companies to continue to sell their goods regardless of the cap on whole- and retail-sale prices. They will thus be eligible for compensation for the damage, to be set by the government once the measure expires.

The maximum retail price was set on the basis of the latest seven-day average representative price of petroleum products for Slovenia as reported to the European Commission in the Weekly Oil Bulletin. The maximum wholesale prices are by two cents per litre below the retail price caps, which the government finds makes it possible to sell petroleum products to small traders.

The regulation on the price caps was published in the Official Gazette today and will come into effect tomorrow. It will be in force for three months, that is by 10 August.

The Economy Ministry gave an assessment of the fiscal impact of re-regulation of prices in the documents released by the government.

Three leading fuel retailers (Petrol operates 318 service stations, OMV 120 and MOL Slovenija 53 stations) estimate the financial damage to their business as a result of the cap on retail prices at about EUR 30 million a month, which does not include the damage in case of a cap on wholesale prices.

In case of price controls and retailer obligation to sell at regulated prices at the cost of substantial damage to business, the price control act provides for compensation. It could cost the state at least EUR 30 million a month, and prices had already been capped much lower from mid-March to the end of April.

The reintroduction of price caps had been hinted at by PM Janez Janša on Twitter earlier today after Robert Golob, the most plausible candidate for the new prime minister, announced yesterday his centre-left government would impose energy price regulation, targetting not just fuel but other energy sources as well.

The outgoing government imposed temporary caps on fuel prices on 14 March, capping the price of regular at the pump at EUR 1.503 and diesel at EUR 1.541 a litre. The measure expired at the end of April, and the government's decision not to extend it sent fuel prices soaring.

Regular sold at filling stations operated by Petrol and MOL Slovenija outside motorways today cost EUR 1.717 a litre, and diesel EUR 1.862 a litre. OMV Slovenija sells fuel at EUR 1.714 and diesel at EUR 1.856. Prices at service stations on motorways are even higher

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