STA, 6 December 2018 - The number of workers from abroad rose by 18.8% to 86,014 between end of September 2017 and end of September this year, with former Yugoslav countries representing the main workforce pool for Slovenian companies, data from the Statistics Office shows.
According to the Statistics Office, nearly half of foreign workers in Slovenia come from Bosnia-Herzegovina (41,832). They are followed by those from Serbia (10,451) and Croatia (7,316).
However, the inflow of workforce in percentage increased the most from Kosovo, by 27% to 6,930, compared to 24.5% rise in workers from Serbia, a 21.4% rise in workers from Bosnia and an 18.9% increase in workers from Croatia.
Workers from Croatia got free access to the Slovenian labour market under EU rules in July as a consequence of the election-related political hiatus, and Slovenia has accords designed to improve workers' legal standing with Bosnia and Serbia.
The accord with Bosnia has been in force for some time now, while the one with Serbia was only signed in early November, so it has not affected the data yet.
Despite having no such deals, Slovenia is a destination of choice for workers from other former Yugoslav countries as well, including for those from Macedonia, whose number increased by 15.8% to 5,914 by the end of September.
STA, 3 December 2018 - In a bid to address future challenges in business, the government plans to upgrade the national asset management strategy next year to make Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH) the driver of economic development in individual industries and companies, according to Finance Ministry State Secretary Metod Dragonja.
The announcement came as SSH held its annual conference on Monday, with Dragonja pointing out that it was time to adapt the strategy, "after we've managed to form a consistent governance framework in recent years".
The state asset custodian will now gradually complete its denationalisation obligations assumed when it absorbed the Slovenian Restitution Fund (SOD) in 2014 and incorporate the Bank Asset Management Company, Slovenia's bad bank, in 2020 and 2021.
"Our vision is to make SSH capable of taking on an active role in encouraging economic development in Slovenia and become the driver of development in individual industries and companies. The new asset management strategy will be drafted with this in mind," Dragonja said.
SSH has provided the Finance Ministry with its recommendations for improvements, but now everything is in the hands of the government and the National Assembly, SSH head Lidija Glavina told the press on the sidelines of the conference.
According to the SSH management, the strategy will have to be tweaked in terms of goals and success indicators, and classifications of assets should be adjusted.
Currently, a major goal set down in the strategy is return on equity (ROE), which was to hit 7.1% in 2017 and is to stand at 8% in 2020.
SSH's ROE for 2017 stood at 6.5% last year, which is the highest yet but still below plans, which the management of SSH attributes to the rising share of important and strategic assets in its portfolio. Such companies have other priorities than creating ROE, the management pointed out.
According to Glavina, the 8% goal in ROE is attainable in finance and tourism and economy, but it will be hard to hit 8% in energy and transport, which have the highest share of strategic assets.
Meanwhile, Dragonja pointed out that SSH will have its hands full in tourism, as the strategy for sustainable development of tourism envisages consolidation and restructuring efforts in the branch.
The state secretary also listed some of the future tasks for the state in corporate governance, including the transformation of pension fund KAD into a demographic reserve fund and a clear definition of its mission, investment strategies and goals.
Additionally, the changes to the 2019 budget implementation law bring provisions that will put state-owned companies that are not managed by SSH on the same foundations.
As regards SSH itself, 2019 will be marked by continued efforts to sell the remainder of NLB to up to 25% minus one share, and efforts to sell Abanka, with Glavina saying that the bank would be sold before the deadline expires in mid-2019.
STA, 3 December 2018 - Yaskawa's emerging plant in Kočevje, which was visited by Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, Japanese Ambassador Masaharu Yoshida and the boss of the Slovenian subsidiary of the Japanese robotics group Hubert Kosler on Monday, will start test runs in January and become fully operational in the second half of next year.
Yaskawa is expected to obtain the operating permit for the plant, where seven types of robots will be manufactured, this month and launch test production in January.
So far the company has employed 30 people, but the number is to grow to between 60 and 70 by March and to 120-150 by March 2020.
The EUR 24.6m investment is then to start operating at full capacity in the second half of the coming year, with the production expected to reach 6,000 robots a year. By 2023 the headcount is to reach around 200.
Economy Minister Počivalšek sees this as a confirmation of Slovenia's status as "an excellent investment location", while Yaskawa's investment will also make the country an important regional player in robotics.
In addition to the plant, the Japanese group plans to establish an R&D centre to strengthen and upgrade cooperation with faculties and institutes including the Faculty Of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and the Jožef Stefan Institute.
Počivalšek also pointed out that this plant was a good initiation for another Yaskawa investment planned in Slovenia, a plant that would produce motors, servo regulators and inverters.
Production at plants in Slovenia is to satisfy about 75% of needs for Europe, Middle East and Africa. For the rest of the robots coming from Japan, Slovenia will serve as the main distribution hub.
All out stories on robotics in Slovenia are here
STA, 3 December 2018 - Slovenia, whose exports and imports rose by 14% last year, improved its standings among EU countries in terms of foreign trade, the Statistics Office (SURS) said on Monday. Slovenia's integration in international trade of goods reached 64.4%, which puts Slovenia on the fourth place in the EU.
In terms of integration in international trade of services, which last year reached 13.6%, Slovenia ranked 14th among EU countries, while it was 15th in 2016.
Slovenia exceeded the EU average both in terms of import and export growth. The average export growth in the previous three years was 5.1% and the growth of import was 3.5%.
In terms of the share of imports and exports of goods and services in GDP, Slovenia ranked eighth, which is up two spots from the year before. It was preceded by Luxembourg, Malta, Ireland, Slovakia, Hungary, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Foreign direct investments in Slovenia totalled EUR 13.7bn at the end of 2017, which is a 5.4% increase year-on-year. In the last three years, FDI rose by 12-15%.
The share of FDI in GDP stood at 31.85% last year, which compares to 32.1% in 2016.
Slovenia's direct investment abroad totalled EUR 5.9bn at the end of last year, rising by 2.9% in a year. The average growth in the previous three years was somewhat higher, at 3.5%.
Slovenia's direct investments abroad amounted to 13.7% of GDP last year, which is half a percentage point lower than in 2016.
More details can be found at SURS
STA, 29 November 2018 - The first reading in the National Assembly of a bill raising the minimum wage by overhauling the way it is calculated indicated that the changes, proposed by the opposition Left with the tentative support of the coalition, are likely to be watered down somewhat during the adoption process.
While all parties agreed the minimum wage, currently at EUR 638 net, was too low, they mostly found issues with the bill.
The motion, coming after basic welfare allowance went up from EUR 297 to EUR 393 earlier this year, would increase the minimum wage by roughly 5% in 2019 and just as much in 2020. In 2021 it introduces a calculation formula that would keep it 20% above minimum living costs.
The main objection raised on Thursday by most coalition parties and the government as it held a correspondence session had to do with to the timeline of the raise, which is closely linked to the exclusion of individual bonuses and allowances from the calculation of the minimum wage.
"A predictable business environment is crucial for the economy in Slovenia, which is why the minimum wage needs to be raised in a well though-out, predictable and gradual way. When considering predictability, it is inappropriate that changes adopted in December 2018 already enter into force in January 2019," the government wrote.
All our stories on Slovenia’s minimum wage are here
It highlighted the need to phase out the bonuses - employers have been including various bonuses into the minimum wage - gradually, arguing "this would give the public as well as private sector enough time to adjust".
While asserting it was in favour of the goals of the proposal, the government reached out to employers, who have been complaining the changes were drafted without social dialogue.
It said that "it would make sense when searching for the most appropriate solutions in the next stages of the legislative procedure to consider social dialogue to the highest extent possible and adjust the enforcement's dynamics for individual solutions".
The proposal in general was rejected only by the opposition New Slovenia (NSi), whose Jožef Horvat said the rise would disrupt the balance of the wage scale, and by the opposition Democrats (SDS) whose Karmen Furman identified a misguided wage policy combined with a misguided social transfers policy as the reason for this disruption.
The two parties also highlighted the absence of social dialogue, while Jerca Korče of the senior coalition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) said the Economic and Social Council had had a number of opportunities to discuss a higher minimum wage.
"I have the feeling that the time will never be right for this debate," she said, also rejecting accusations that an effort was under way to revive "an outdated social model" and to meddle in the economy.
"The state has to see the whole picture, which is comprised of both business and the recipients of the minimum wage. Because the wage did not increase on its own, politics assessed it was time to intervene," she said.
Joining the Left in supporting the changes in their current form was the opposition National Party (SNS), whose Dušan Šiško was however simultaneously critical of the raised welfare allowance.
In the end, the bill was endorsed in a unanimous vote with the SDS and NSi abstaining.
STA, 27 November 2018 - MPs failed to pass in a re-vote on Tuesday a reform bill on real estate agencies which was to improve the legal certainty of consumers as well as realtors. The upper chamber vetoed the motion in March, claiming that it excessively regulated the field.
While today's vote ended 42:10 in favour of the bill, absolute majority of 46 out of 90 MPs would have been needed in the re-vote.
Only four of the five coalition parties supported the bill, while the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) did not present its view.
The Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), SocDems, Pensioners Party (DeSUS) and the Modern Centre Party (SMC) said that the bill would protect consumers and provide for the legal safety of all stakeholders on the real estate market.
But the opposition parties New Slovenia (NSi) and the National Party (SNS) agreed with the objections to the bill voiced by real estate agencies, who argued that the bill would restrain agencies too much.
In contrast, the opposition Left opposed it for allegedly not bringing enough regulation.
All our real estate in Slovenia stories are here
The opposition Democrats (SDS) did not present its arguments.
The National Council, the upper chamber of parliament, vetoed the bill in March at the initiative of a group of councillors led by Mitja Gorenšček, the executive director of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS).
The bill was initiated by the GZS's real estate agencies section but after it was amended at parliamentary committee level, the group turned against it, saying that it envisaged excessive regulation by capping the provision in real estate deals with individuals at 4% (which is in line with the existing law), by limiting provisions in rental deals to one-month's rent and by setting the maximum costs in case of no deal at EUR 150.
STA, 27 November 2018 - Foreign-owned high-tech companies RLS and Bosch Rexroth, airport operator Fraport Slovenija and logistics firm Cargo-Partner have won the Invest Slovenia FDI Award to become this year's best foreign investors in their respective categories.
The awards were given out by the SPIRIT agency in Brdo pri Kranju on Tuesday evening, rewarding excellence in R&D and business results; long-term presence in the region; the best employer; and a new greenfield investment into a logistics centre.
RLS (website), a Komenda-based producer of advanced magnetic rotary and linear motion sensors, received the award in the category of R&D and excellent business results.
In 2017, the company had 135 employees and posted a revenue of EUR 21m, up 18% on 2016, with value added per employee at EUR 99,000.
The company, set up by director and co-owner Janez Novak in 1990, has been co-owned by Great Britain's Renishaw, a world leader in metrology since 2000.
Bosch Rexroth (website) from Škofja Loka, which is part of Germany's group Bosch Rexroth AG, won the award in the category of long-term presence in the region.
The company develops innovative solutions for new mobile services for industry and households, and has been present here since 1998, when the foreign investor, at the time known as Mannesmann Rexroth, set up a company in Železniki.
Last year, it posted EUR 40.5m in revenue, of which 99% was generated abroad, and a net profit of over EUR 1m, boasting value added per employee of EUR 40,400.
The best employer in the region is Fraport Slovenija (website), the company from Germany's Fraport Group operating Ljubljana's international airport.
Since it acquired Slovenian airport operator Aerodrom Ljubljana in March 2015, Fraport AG has significantly improved business results and started hiring new staff.
With more than 400 workers in 2017, it was one of the largest employers in the region of Gorenjska, north-west, and is planning further hirings.
A special mention for a new greenfield investment into a logistics centre went to logistics company Cargo-Partner (website) from Ljubljana, which is part of the Vienna-based Cargo Partner group.
Having entered Slovenia in 2005, the company launched a EUR 25m investment into the logistics centre in Brnik near Ljubljana airport in August, which is the largest investment at the group level so far.
With 90 employees, Cargo-Partner generated almost EUR 34m in revenue in 2017, with its value added per employee at EUR 45,500.
Eligible for the award were companies with at least 50 employees which had not cut workforce in the past year and which had generated at least EUR 35,000 in added value per employee.
The companies had to be in majority foreign ownership, had to operate with a profit and had to have all their tax obligations settled.
The awards have been conferred together with the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology since 2006 as part of a national strategy to attract FDI.
FDI in Slovenia topped EUR 13.7bn at the end of 2017, up 5.4% over the end of 2016, accounting for 32% of Slovenia's GDP, which is still 25 points below the EU average.
STA, 26 November 2018 - Port operator Luka Koper reported on Monday a nine-month net profit of EUR 49m, which is a 22% improvement on the same period last year. Net sales revenue was up 6% to EUR 168m.
Excluding the EUR 9.1m compensation received over damage to a bridge crane caused by a ship during a storm, the January - September 2018 net profit would amount to EUR 40.9m, a 3% year-on-year improvement, the company pointed out.
The group's operating profit (EBIT) rose by 29% to EUR 57m or by 8% to EUR 47.4m when discounting the mentioned one off event.
The core company recorded EUR 165.5m in revenue, a 7% increase, net profit rose by 22% to EUR 47.7m, EBIT by 30% to EUR 55.8m and EBITDA by 22% to EUR 77.2m.
Transshipment in the port was just under 18 million tonnes, which is on par with the first nine months of last year. March saw a monthly record of 2.3 million tonnes.
Luka Koper had a workforce of 1,217 at the end of September, a 11% increase on a year earlier.
It spent EUR 9.5m on investment at the level of the group.
All our stories on Luka Koper port are here
STA, 25 November 2018 - The Kidričevo-based group Talum, which is increasingly adding production of ready-made products to the principal activity of aluminium production, expects good business results this year despite the turbulent and unpredictable situation on the global market, chairman Marko Drobnič has told the STA.
According to him, the conditions in the aluminium industry globally have been extremely dynamic and unpredictable this year, both in terms of supply of raw materials as well as their prices.
He said the situation had never been this tough before.
Drobnič attributed this to the relations between the US, Russia and China, most notably the US's sanctions against certain Russian companies, its introduction of customs, and environmental restriction on production in China.
Talum had to respond quickly to the growing prices of the raw materials used in the production of primary aluminium, especially aluminium oxide.
Since the production of aluminium in Europe will become a relatively sensitive matter given the circumstance, Talum's strategic goal since 2012 has been to raise the value added of its products.
The new business strategy for 2018-2022 also follows this guideline. According to Drobnič, the emphasis will be on sustainable development, renovation and optimisation of business processes and digitalisation.
"I see great potential for development in innovation. A key priority is also to train staff to be able to respond to changes, given the developments outside that are extremely dynamic and unpredictable," the CEO said.
Talum expects revenue to reach some EUR 360m at the end of the year, which is 3% more than in 2017. Profit is expected to be somewhat lower, at EUR 1.5m.
The group currently employs 1,500 people, which is 125 more than at the end of 2017.
The company's Engish website is here
STA, 24 November 2018 - The state budget generated almost one billion euro in revenue from the privatisation of state assets in the last six years, with the recent sale of a 65% stake in the NLB bank actually representing the bulk of it. Among the most profitable years were also 2014 and 2016, when the state sold some major investments.
With the share of the country's largest bank sold at EUR 51.50 at the recent IPO, the state received the proceeds amounting to EUR 609m.
"The proceeds from the sale of the capital investment in NLB have been transferred to the budget and used for repayment of debt in accordance with the public finance act," the Finance Ministry has told the STA.
More than EUR 540m or 90% of the proceeds have been earmarked for debt repayment, and the remaining 10% have been transferred onto a special account of the ministry.
The money will be reserved for the planned independent demographic fund, which is a response to the demographic changes and which looks to ensure long-term stability of the pension system.
The special account for the demographic fund has been holding ten percent of the proceeds from all privatisation deals since April 2014, when the law on Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH), the custodian of state assets, entered into force.
A total of EUR 97m has been collected on the account so far.
Since 2013, when the National Assembly confirmed a list of 15 companies for privatisation, the national budget has received a total of EUR 983.7m in proceeds.
Before the SSH law entered into force, all proceeds were spent for repayment of debt, which stood at EUR 31.8bn at the end of last year.
Due to the economic growth Slovenia has been recording in the recent years, its share in the country's GDP has been decreasing, standing at 74.1% at the end of last year.
The first companies to be privatised were coatings maker Helios in October 2013 and medical laser maker Fotona in January 2014, followed by car electronics maker Letrika and Ljubljana airport operator Aerodrom Ljubljana.
Proceeds from the privatisations completed in 2014 amounted to EUR 119m.
In mid-2015, the state-owned owners of sports equipment maker Elan sold the company for a symbolic sum, with the new owners, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Wiltan Enterprises, securing EUR 12m as a return of state aid received in 2008.
Aircraft maintenance company Adria Airways Tehnika was also sold in 2015 to the Polish Linetech Holding for around EUR 1m.
In the same year, the US investment fund Apollo and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development bought NKBM, the second-largest bank in the country, for EUR 250m, while bread and pasta maker Žito was acquired by Croatia's Podravka.
The privatised companies from the list also include car parts maker Cimos, tissue maker Paloma, and airline Adria Airways.
All our stories on privatisation in Slovenia are here
STA, 23 November 2018 - Mercator, Slovenia's largest retailer, posted a group net profit of EUR 9m for the first nine months of 2018, which compares to a EUR 10.5m loss in the same period last year, as sales rose by 1.6% to EUR 1.62bn.
Profit before income tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose by a quarter to EUR 87m, with operating profit (EBIT) surging by 157% to EUR 36m, the company said in an interim financial report released on Friday.
The improvement was driven by retail sales, which rose by 5.4% to EUR 1.2bn. "A new strategy, new store concept, store refurbishments and improved competitiveness of services are driving positive results in the core business," the company said.
On its key Slovenian market, retail sales improved by 0.5% despite what the company said was a significant reduction in store surfaces.
By the end of September, the group reduced its net financial debt by a tenth to EUR 738m, with the debt-to-EBITDA ratio going from 16 to 7.2.
Investments in fixed assets were almost halved to EUR 19m.
The number of employees dropped by more than 2% at group level to 20,322.
The core company saw sales improve by less than a percent to EUR 880m, while net profit remained flat at EUR 14.7m.
The financials do not yet account for the monetisation of real estate agreed in October, when Mercator concluded a sale and leaseback agreement with Austrian developer Supernova involving ten malls and worth EUR 117m.
Related: How to get a Mercator Pika card