Business

18 Jul 2019, 17:48 PM

STA, 18 July 2019 - Contractors have completed works on a major logistics centre adjacent to Ljubljana Airport that will be operated by Austrian logistics giant Cargo Partner. Spanning over almost 30,000 square metres, the new facility is expected to help turn the airport area in a major logistics hub.

Engineering company Protim Ržišnik Perc, which oversaw the project, said on Thursday the new facility would have 25,000 square metres of warehousing areas capable of storing 20,000 palettes, plus 4,000 square metres of office space.

It is located right next to a major centre run by Kuehne + Nagel which serves as the biggest logistics facility for Swiss drug maker Novartis in Europe.

When Cargo Partner broke ground on the project at the end of August 2018, the company said it opted for the airport area because of its excellent location and proximity to the seaports in Koper and Trieste.

Several other smaller logistics projects are also in development around the airport, Zmago Skobir, the head of airport operator Fraport Slovenija, said today as work started on a new passenger terminal at the airport

"It all started with the new bypass road. Since then development around the airport has been very fast," he said.

Work starts on extension of Ljubljana airport passenger terminal

STASTA, 18 July 2019 - A cornerstone ceremony marked the start of construction of a passenger terminal extension at the Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport on Thursday. The expansion will boost the terminal's capacities considerably and improve the airport's services. The works are expected to take two years, with the total cost of investment exceeding EUR 21 million.

Steps in preparing construction site have already been taken by builders GIC Gradnje and Elcom with whom airport operator Fraport Slovenija signed a EUR 17.3 million construction contract at the end of June.

At the ceremony, Fraport Slovenija director Zmago Skobir said that the journey towards modernising the passenger terminal was a long one, but the German company had started delivering on the promises it gave when it became the airport's operator in 2015.

The terminal extension is necessary due to an increase in the number of passengers in the recent years. The trend is expected to continue in the future - in the next 20 years, the Ljubljana airport is expected to register a 3-4% increase of annual traffic growth.

The airport welcomed a record number of 1.8 million passengers last year and has been struggling with lack of space for a while.

Skobir said he was not concerned over the future of Slovenian air carrier Adria Airways since he was sure that it would adapt to growing passenger traffic rates, which are increasing in line with the Slovenian economy and tourism.

The current capacities of the terminal provide service to 500 passengers per hour, while the new terminal will cater to 1,250 passengers per hour. This will prevent bottle neck at the terminal, including during rush hours in peak summer season.

The terminal will thus get 10,000 square metres of new space, including new retail and restaurant facilities as well as additional 14 check-in desks, two security control points and a new departure lounge.

The extension will delight passengers and ensure long-term development and competitiveness for Fraport Slovenija, said Skobir.

Apart from the expansion, the operator also plans to modernise airport logistics and IT. According to Skobir, Fraport Slovenija is currently in a long-term investment cycle that amounts to more than EUR 40 million.

The German-owned operator will supervise and manage the investment with a team of ten engineers. According to engineering manager Andrej Tominec, the operator aims to open the new terminal in summer 2021 before Slovenia takes the EU Council presidency in July 2021.

The airport will stay open during the whole construction process. The new facility will be a separate unit connected to the existing terminal, located on the site of a former car park.

The building will be a spacious fusion of concrete, wood and glass, reflecting the nearby Kamnik-Savinja Alps, getting a lot of natural light and blending in with its environment, said the Plan B architecture firm, which has designed blueprints.

There will also be a park outside the new facility, envisaged as a refreshing shelter for passengers. A vision of turning the airport into a small airport city is thus coming to fruition, said Skobir.

Fraport Slovenija also plans to renovate the old terminal after completing the extension project.

18 Jul 2019, 09:30 AM

STA, 17 July 2019 - The Administrative Court has stayed the telecoms market regulator's decision to strip the company Telemach of a portion of wireless spectrum which it acquired through the acquisition of Tušmobil in 2014.

The Agency for Communication Networks and Services (AKOS) wanted to take away a portion of wireless spectrum that had been awarded to Tušmobil free of charge in 2008.

The agency wanted to take back two 5 MHz slices of spectrum in the 2100 MHz band on 30 September, planning to release a public call for bids for the spectrum in the meantime.

However, Telemach appealed against the decision with the Administrative Court, which ordered AKOS to suspend all activities in the matter pending the court's final decision, Telemach confirmed for the STA.

The third largest telecommunications provider in the country, Telemach holds about a fifth of the country's mobile telephony market.

The spectrum that is subject to the dispute amounts to less than a tenth of total spectrum that Telemach has at its disposal.

AKOS's decision to withdraw the spectrum was prompted by the Administrative Court, which examined the awarding of the spectrum to Tušmobil free of charge in 2008 and ordered the agency to make a new decision.

The awarding of the spectrum is also the subject of a criminal trial, with former AKOS director Tomaž Simonič charged with abuse of office for giving the spectrum to Tušmobil in exchange for an apartment provided by Mirko Tuš, at the time the owner of Tušmobil.

Telemach acquired Tušmobil in 2014 in a move that bolstered its mobile offerings and made it the number 3 wireless operator in Slovenia.

17 Jul 2019, 11:46 AM

STA, 16 July 2019 - Orpea, a French multinational that specialises in assisted living services, has entered the Slovenian market via its Austrian subsidiary Senecura by purchasing a retirement home in Radenci, eastern Slovenia, called Dosor.

Senecura purchased the facility earlier this year from Radenci municipality and the Austrian bad bank Heta and plans to use it as a springboard for Slovenia, having previously acquired the licence to build several small retirement homes around the country with a total of 310 beds.

The company, the biggest private operator of retirement homes in Austria, acquired Dosor because of the quality of care it provides, favourable location and its reputation in Slovenia, Senecura board member Anton Kellner told the press on Tuesday.

Radenci municipality sold its 50% stake for EUR 1.5 million, while the rest was acquired with the purchase of Heta's EUR 7.6 million in claims to Dosor.

Dosor has 178 beds and 100 employees. It was built as a public-private project in 2008.

Together with the planned network of small retirement homes, the acquisition puts Senecura on track to compete with the biggest Slovenian private provider of elderly care, Deos, which has eight facilities in Slovenia.

There are currently over 100 elderly care facilities in Slovenia offering just over 20,000 places, most of which are publicly owned and operated by municipalities.

All our stories on the elderly in Slovenia are here

17 Jul 2019, 10:34 AM

STA, 17 July 2019 - Ascent Resources, the UK developer of the Petišovci gas field in eastern Slovenia, has reportedly launched administrative dispute proceedings in Slovenia after it was ordered to get a separate permit for hydraulic fracturing.

The move, reported on Tuesday by the Stock Market Wire news portal, comes after the Environment Ministry upheld a decision of the Environment Agency (ARSO) on the controversial gas extraction project in Petišovci.

The ministry agreed that an environmental impact assessment and a separate environmental permit were necessary because the location of the gas wells was close to water sources and because underground waters and agricultural land in the area do not have very good ability to regenerate.

"The decision of ARSO and the Environment Ministry ignores the opinion of the six independent expert bodies whose advice ARSO sought," Ascent said.

The decision mistakenly concluded that the project fell within a conservation area and misapplied EU case law in relation to mitigation measures, Ascent also said as it announced multi-pronged legal action against Slovenia on 14 July, a day before the deadline for the Administrative Court appeal.

Aside from challenging the decision at the Administrative Court, Ascent plans to submit a claim for damages against the state for breach of EU law including for the unreasonably long time it took for the decision to be reached.

The company will seek damages for loss of future income from the project "which would have been expected to have been a multiple of the historic investment of some EUR 50 million."

It also plans to lodge an investment treaty arbitration claim under the Energy Charter Treaty.

All our stories on Ascent Resources are here

16 Jul 2019, 16:00 PM

STA, 15 July 2019 - A bill to limit commission fees for leasing real estate and other costs which real estate agencies can charge their clients was vetoed by the National Council on Monday.

The veto comes as real estate agencies have vehemently protested the bill and have threatened to petition the Constitutional Court.

Under the changes to the act on real estate agency tabled by the Left, landlords would fully pay the commission fee charged by a real estate agency for a service commissioned by them.

This means tenants would no longer shoulder part of the fee, tackling one of the biggest complaints by individuals - the fact that tenants pay a fee for a service they have not commissioned.

A cap would also be imposed on the commission fee that can be charged by apartment rental agencies to landlords. The capped amount would correspond to one monthly rent but would not be lower than 150 euros.

The restrictions apply only to rental to individuals, business-to-business transactions are exempted.

Councillor Mitja Gorenšček, who led the veto initiative, argued today that the proponents of regulation should be targeting other fields on the market and not an area that the average persons encounters once or never in their life.

The Left's Luka Mesec begged to differ, arguing Slovenia had not developed a long-term flat renting market, with most tenants signing 12-month contracts and then being forced to pay for a service they did not commission every few years.

While the Left argued one of the goals of the bill was to enable people affordable housing, Gorenšček said the real problem was insufficient supply and that this was where the state should intervene with measures. He however also echoed the claims of businesses that the bill was an encroachment on the free market.

Environmental and Spatial Planning Ministry State Secretary Marko Maver however also came out in the defence of the bill, saying it followed housing policy guideline. He said it would increase accessibility and also encourage long-term contracts.

Meanwhile, the bill also introduces EU rules in acquiring qualifications for a real estate agent; Slovenia had already received a warning about a delay from the European Commission.

The Left is confident the bill receive the absolute majority needed in the National Assembly to override the veto.

All our stories on property in Slovenia are here

16 Jul 2019, 12:33 PM

STA, 15 July 2019 - In the next three years, some EUR 200 million will be invested in the building of broadband optical networks in rural parts of Slovenia as part of the RUNE project, co-funded by the EU and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

The Rural Network Project will be launched this year and will bring internet speeds of up to 10Gb/s to rural households, according to RUNE Enia, the company in charge of the investment in Slovenia.

The project, which is also being launched in Croatia, is co-funded by the Connecting Europe Broadband Fund (CEBF) set up by the EU and the EIB in order to help fund commercial investments. RUNE investment in Croatia is somewhat lower than in Slovenia, at EUR 50 million.

According to the European Commission's web site, the goal is to generate between EUR 1 billion and EUR 1.7 billion investments by providing EUR 500 million in incentives.

15 Jul 2019, 14:54 PM

STA, 12 July 2019 - The opposition Democrats (SDS) and New Slovenia (NSi) have joined the initiative of Slovenian workers who commute to Austria for a constitutional review of what they see as discriminatory income tax legislation.

While the union of Slovenian migrant workers asked the top court to review the income tax act in November 2018, Franc Breznik of the SDS told the press on Friday that the two parties urged the court to give the matter absolute priority treatment.

"This is a very burning issue in particularly in the east on the country, an issue that is perhaps not felt so much in Ljubljana," he said.

Slovenians working abroad but residing in Slovenia pay part of the taxes in Austria and additional income tax in Slovenia, which the NSi's Jožef Horvat said leaves them with less disposable income compared to workers with similar income in Slovenia.

"If both make EUR 18,700 gross a year, the worker in Slovenia has EUR 1,750 more disposable income than the one working in Austria," he said.

Horvat, who highlighted a different tax treatment of food and transport allowances as a key source of the discrepancy, said the situation was at odds with a Constitutional Court reasoning from 2013 that put commuting migrant workers on "essentially equal" footing with their compatriots in Slovenia as regards income tax, "which means our legal order should treat them equally".

He added the current arrangement was also at odds with the principle of the welfare sate, since the segment of commuting migrant workers with high income is subjected to a more favourable treatment when it comes to the mentioned allowance costs.

Responding to the original initiative for a constitutional review a while ago, the Finance Ministry said that exempting Slovenian workers commuting abroad from income tax would be systemically unacceptable and violate the constitutional principle of equal tax treatment.

All of our stories on tax in Slovenia are here

15 Jul 2019, 12:59 PM

STA, 15 July 2019 - The average gross salary in Slovenia was at EUR 1,728.12 gross in May and EUR 1,113.88 net. Compared to May 2018, average gross salary was 3.9% higher in nominal terms and 2.5% higher in real terms. Net salary was 3.4% higher in nominal terms and 2% higher in real terms compared to the May of last year, according to the Statistics Office.

The highest net wages were paid out in the financial and insurance sector, EUR 1,556.92 net. Compared to April, average gross and net pay was 0.1% lower in nominal terms and 1% lower in real terms.

In the public sector, net salaries went up by 0.7% on average in May over April, while in the private sector, the average net pay went down by 0.6% compared to April.

More details on these statistics can be found here, while all our stories on pay in Slovenia are here

12 Jul 2019, 16:19 PM

STA, 12 July 2019 - A bill to limit commission fees for leasing real estate and other costs which real estate agencies can charge their clients was endorsed by the National Assembly on Friday amidst protests by real estate agencies, which have threatened to petition the Constitutional Court.

Under the changes to the act on real estate agency tabled by the Left, landlords would fully pay the commission fee charged by a real estate agency for a service commissioned by them.

This means tenants would no longer shoulder part of the fee, tackling one of the biggest complaints by individuals - the fact that tenants pay a fee for a service they have not commissioned.

A cap would also be imposed on the commission fee that can be charged by apartment rental agencies to landlords. The capped amount would correspond to one monthly rent but would not be lower than 150 euros.

The restrictions apply only to rental to individuals, business-to-business transactions are exempted.

The Left believes tenants in apartments leased at market prices should benefit the most since they will no longer have to pay commission fees for the services they have not commissioned and since landlords would be encouraged to rent out their apartments for longer periods.

The bill also introduces EU rules in acquiring qualifications for a real estate agent; Slovenia had already received a warning about a delay from the European Commission.

While the motion received wholehearted support from the government and the Consumer Protection Association, businesses have been up in arms over what they say is encroachment on the free market.

Representatives of real estate agents, who even took out whole-page ads in newspapers to protest the bill, said it was inadmissible for anyone to limit the price of a service available on the free market.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) has said there is enough competition on the market and citizens are not obliged to use this service.

Fewer than 50% of real estate transactions are made through real estate agents, which GZS sees as proof that tenants are not forced to shoulder the commission fee for the service.

The GZS's section of real estate agents has said it will report Slovenia to the European Commission and probably ask the Constitutional Court to review the bill.

10 Jul 2019, 09:25 AM

STA, 9 July 2019 - Pivovarna Laško Union, a Slovenian brewery owned by the Dutch company Heineken, ended 2018 with a net profit of EUR 20.3 million, up roughly a third form 2017, on net sales revenues of EUR 153.1 million, a rise of 6.5%.

Net sales revenues rose mostly on account of heftier sales in foreign markets, which accounted for 26% of all sales revenue, up 4 percentage points, the Ljubljana-based company said in Tuesday's press release.

Its operating profit (EBIT) rose by 29% to EUR 27.6 million, whereas normalised EBIT - the operating profit adjusted to remove one-off events - reached EUR 28.6 million.

Director general Zooullis Mina, who has been at the helm of the Slovenian brewer since the spring 2018, labelled the last business year successful.

He noted that 45 investments had been made in the brewery's two production facilities - Pivovarna Union and Pivovarna Laško - and in the logistics segment.

Sustainable development being an integral part of the group's business strategy, Pivovarna Laško Union used 5% less drinking water and 10% less energy to produce a litre of beer in 2018 compared to 2016. What is more, Laško uses only Slovenian-grown hops.

At the end of 2018, Pivovarna Laško Union had a workforce of 596, roughly on a par with 2017.

The group was established in 2016 with the merger of Pivovarna Laško and Pivovarna Union after the two were acquired by Heineken a year earlier.

09 Jul 2019, 11:45 AM

STA, 9 July 2019 - Telecoms operator Telemach, which holds about a fifth of the country's mobile telephony market, is on track to losing a portion of wireless spectrum that had been awarded free of charge in 2008 to a company it acquired almost five years ago.

The Agency for Communication Networks and Services (AKOS) has decided to take back two 5 MHz slices of spectrum in the 2100 MHz band, which amounts to less than a tenth of total spectrum that Telemach has at its disposal.

The decision will be effective on 30 September, until which time a public call for bids for the spectrum will be issued. Telemach will be allowed to bid, AKOS said on Tuesday.

Telemach told the STA the move would not affect its users since they have enough spectrum, and it said it would mount a challenge at the Administrative Court.

As for participating in the announced tender, the company said this would "depend on the tender conditions and the company's assessment as to whether the acquisition of additional frequency under the tender conditions is technically and economically justified."

The decision is based on an ruling by the Administrative Court, which examined the awarding of the spectrum to Tušmobil free of charge in 2008 and decided the agency needed to make a new decision.

The awarding of the spectrum is also the subject of a criminal trial, with former AKOS director Tomaž Simonič charged with abuse of office for giving the spectrum to Tušmobil in exchange for an apartment provided by Mirko Tuš, at the time the owner of Tušmobil.

Telemach acquired Tušmobil in 2014 in a move that bolstered its mobile offerings and made it the number 3 wireless operator in Slovenia.

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