STA, 5 February 2019 - STBE, a company which is said to own the airline Adria Airways brand, has been absorbed by Adria Airways, Slovenia's flag carrier in German ownership. The move increases the airline's share capital and changes its ownership, the business newspaper Finance reported on Tuesday, citing publicly available documents.
Adria's share capital has thus increased by EUR 1.5m to EUR 3.28m and its majority ownership has passed to Stefan Beulertz, until now the sole owner of STBE.
According to news portal Siol, STBE had bought Adria's brand from Adria a while ago for EUR 8m.
Before Beulertz became its majority owner, Adria was in sole ownership of AA International Aviation Holding, a company within the German turnaround fund 4K Invest, which bought Adria from the Slovenian state in 2016.
The airline said its strategy and day-to-day operations would not change under the new ownership. "The merger by acquisition of STBE is one of the measures to improve the company's financial strength and performance," Adria told the STA.
Struggling with liquidity issues, Adria was supplied with EUR 4m in fresh capital at the end of 2018.
Its owners announced another EUR 10m capital hike in the first quarter of this year and the move is believed to be a part of this operation.
Last year, Adria was scrutinised by the Civil Aviation Agency for speculation of insolvency, but the agency said last month the airline was able to secure long-term solvency, so it kept the air operator certificate.
Meanwhile, Finance cited an unofficial source saying the company had generated an operating loss of EUR 14-15m last year.
Adria neither confirmed nor denied the report, reiterating it would inject the airline with EUR 10m in fresh capital by the end of March.
Adria will phase out flights to Moscow and Düsseldorf this week and terminate cooperation with German airport Paderborn-Lippstadt.
"We have not managed to agree further conditions for air services under which we could carry on the cooperation [with Paderborn]... All the other operations of Adria Airways remain unchanged," the company told the STA.
STA, 4 February 2019 - Three Slovenian coach companies have been fined nearly EUR 3.1m by the Competition Protection Agency due to collusion in a 2010 public tender for intercity passenger services, with three more left off the hook for cooperating with the competition watchdog.
Deutsche Bahn subsidiary Arriva Alpetour, industry consolidator Nomago and Integral Brebus, a smaller firm operating out of Brežice, have been ordered to pay the fine.
The coach operators were found to have rigged a public tender by submitting bids for individual concession areas, avoiding outbidding each other.
Indeed, it was discovered that they had agreed in a series of meetings and email exchanges how they would subcontract individual services to each other so that they retained their market shares.
The public tender was cancelled because the bids were too high.
Three other operators - Arriva Štajerska, Arriva Dolenjska in Primorska and Veolia Ljubljana - escaped fines totalling almost a million euro by working with the agency and providing additional evidence about collusion.
This is the first example of the agency being lenient on violators of competition rules in Slovenia.
"The point of the leniency programme is to motivate the participants of a cartel to work with the agency in the detection of actions that represent one of the worst forms of the restriction of competition," the agency said.
The law stipulates that companies engaging in anti-competitive behaviour may receive fines of up to 10% of their turnover, depending on the gravity of the offence.
The three companies that received fines have announced appeals, which will be processed by the Ljubljana Local Court, but an interim decision in which the agency proved the existence of collusion is already final.
STA, 3 February 2019 - Out of more than 142,000 companies active in Slovenia in 2017, almost 95% were micro companies, and they employed more than a third of the total of 627,000 all employees in companies. Most of the revenue, over two-thirds, was generated by large companies, Statistics Office data shows.
Large companies employed 27.3%, medium-sized companies 19.1% and small companies 18.6% of all workers.
The exact number of companies active in 2017 was 142,574, of which 94.7% were micro companies, classified as entities with up to nine employees.
Small companies (with up to 49 employees) represented 4.3%, medium-sized companies (up to 249 employees) 0.8% and large companies (250 of more employees) 0.2% of all companies.
All Slovenian companies generated a total of EUR 96bn in revenue in 2017, of which 34.3% was generated by large companies, which were followed by medium-sized companies (23.2%), micro companies (21.8%) and small companies (20.7%).
Out of the total added value of EUR 23bn, 35.8% was generated by large companies, 23.5% by micro companies, 21.2% by medium-sized companies and 19.5% by small companies.
The largest share of sales revenues was generated by industrial companies (40%), which were also at the top in terms of the generated added value (43%).
The least sales revenues and added value sector-wise was generated by construction companies, 5% and 6%, respectively.
Industrial companies, which include mining and quarrying, manufacturing, electricity, gas, steam and water supply, and waste water and waste management companies, increased sales revenues by 11% compared to 2016.
There were almost 20,000 companies in manufacturing in Slovenia in 2017, with sales revenues increasing the most in the motor vehicle segment (by 29%), and decreasing the most in the production of clothing (by 14%).
The data can be explored in more detail here
STA, 1 February 2019 - One of Slovenia's foremost media experts has called for far-reaching reform of media legislation and state subsidies for media outlets struggling in the current business climate, arguing that Slovenian journalism needs strong support from the state.
"The media pluralisation fund, which has EUR 2m available and spends EUR 1.3m on radio stations of special importance, is not enough. It was not enough years ago and is even less so now: journalism globally faces existential problems and is struggling to survive," Faculty of Social Sciences professor Marko Milosavljević told the latest edition of Mladina.
He said a range of measures should be employed, from tax subsidies for media outlets to incentives for hiring young reporters, preserving the networks of foreign and local correspondents.
The government should increase funding for the media to at least EUR 20m per year, he said, arguing that this was still low compared to what some other countries are spending to prop up their media.
Professor Marko Milosavljević. Photo: www.fdv.uni-lj.si
"And don't forget, just one of the major Slovenian owners, who also owns many media outlets, received EUR 7m in subsidies for his non-media companies last year.
"If we can spend that amount of money on certain sectors of the economy, we can easily earmark EUR 20m for the entire Slovenian media industry," Milosavljević said.
As for the legislative side of things, Milosavljević is in favour of an in-depth reform of all media-related laws, including the act on AV services and legislation governing the public broadcaster and the STA.
The view puts him at odds with the government's stated plan to implement minor tweaks of the media law, but Milosavljević says the government has enough time for true reform given that it has just started its term.
"What's required is a strategic meeting by the prime minister and key departments that affect media in any way, at which those responsible would clearly determine that they must cooperate and come up with comprehensive solutions."
Only this way can pressing issues such as the prevalence of hate speech and intolerance, poor media literacy and digitisation be addressed. "It is essential that they start looking for and proposing solutions, technologies and markets are changing radically," he said.
STA, 1 February 2019 - Gorenje, the Velenje-based household appliances group which was taken over by China's Hisense last year, is cutting 325 temporary-basis jobs, according to information from the in-house trade union.
Gorenje confirmed that fixed-term contracts of 190 workers had elapsed, but the head of the in-house trade union Žan Zeba insisted that 325 jobs were being slashed, including agency workers.
Speaking with the STA, the head of the in-house trade union Žan Zeba said the news came as a negative surprise after the company's plans about expansion of production and extra hiring.
Zeba said the Gorenje management had promised the workers who are now being laid off full time jobs. He also said that it would be hard to meet the output goals given the current labour dynamics.
"After the very good test results of our new generation appliances we definitely expect production to increase and the capacities to be filled; we will welcome all new investments once they happen."
Zeba also hopes that the employees' wishes be taken into consideration in the company's reorganisation.
He said the management was planning to launch a new dishwasher production line in mid-year, but the trade union did not have any information about it.
Production of build-in freezers and fridges is to be moved to the subsidiary in Valjevo in Serbia in the coming months.
Denis Oštir, director of corporate communication at Gorenje, told the STA that the mentioned workers were on temporary job contracts. "These contracts have now run out."
"Gorenje denies in the strongest terms the information that we will lay off 325 workers. We will not give notice to a single worker employed on fixed or non-fixed terms," Oštir said.
After receiving official information from the staffing department, Oštir also denied that employment contracts of 325 workers had run out, saying the correct figure was 190 workers.
He added though that it "is true that the fixed-term contracts of a number of workers have elapsed at this time. This is a matter of seasonal change, which is common in a company's operations".
Oštir said the company was adapting to the clients' demands and seasonal trends in demand. At the end of 2018, demand for labour force in production was bigger because the company created stocks because of the move to Valjevo.
Asked about the plans for a new TV plant announced by the Chinese owners, Oštir said the project was in the phase of acquiring the necessary documents.
The plant is to be built by the existing warehouse in Velenje and is to create 300 to 400 jobs.
Gorenje is currently being transformed from a joint stock company into a limited responsibility company. The company delisted from the Ljubljana Stock Exchange last year.
STA, 31 January 2019 - About 40% of employers in Slovenia have a problem finding qualified work force, according to a survey conducted by temping group ManpowerGroup. The figure is, however, 5% lower than the average of the survey conducted in 43 countries.
Compared to a similar survey conducted in 2017, the share of companies that have a tough job finding skilled work force has increased by 40%.
The needs of employers are changing and they are often looking for work force with very specific know-how, skills and experience, Nebojša Biškup, the head of ManpowerGroup Slovenia and Croatia said on Thursday.
Modern jobs do not always demand a university degree, but they do depend on continuous development of skills because even the most traditional work places will require modern technology skills, Biškup added.
The survey included more than 39,000 employers from six industries, finding that more than half of them have started investing in educational platforms and the development of tools to train the right work force. A survey in 2014 showed that only 20% of employers made such investments.
All our stories about employment in Slovenia are here
STA, 30 January 2019 - The past year has been again excellent for business, so it's time for long-term measures to raise net wages, the Managers' Association of Slovenia (Združenja Manager) boss Aleksander Zalaznik said as he addressed the association's annual get-together in Ljubljana on Wednesday.
Taking a look at 2018, Zalaznik said exports reached 86% of Slovenia's GDP, and praised the fact that 75% of jobs were created by new and fast-growing companies, which was above EU average, as especially encouraging.
Still, signs of a slowdown in Slovenia's main trade partners could be noticed in recent months, and Brexit is another unknown, he said, adding competitiveness and productivity remained Slovenia's challenges, while demographics should also not be neglected.
Nevertheless, an important next step is raising net wages to contain brain drain and facilitate further economic development. So the association proposes a five-year agreement to gradually raise gross wages and reduce taxation.
"A social agreement that we all want a competitive business environment is crucial here," said Zalaznik, who is convinced Slovenia is able to make this leap. "The moment is right, let's take it."
His view about higher wages but also a higher added value was echoed by Zdravko Počivalšek, the minister of economic development and technology.
He said the Council for Competitive and Stable Business Environment, the ministry's advisory body, had proposed the government and businesses draft a long-term plan for wage growth.
"Higher wages and a higher added value must be the goal of all of us, and they are also our responsibility," the minister stressed.
The managers were also addressed by Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, who outlined via video conference government plans to improve the business environment in 2019.
He said the government would draft a proposal on tax restructuring and overhaul the regulatory framework.
The event was attended by President Borut Pahor, who thanked the association for its contribution to Slovenia becoming a better society since gaining independence.
The Managers' Association, which traditionally holds its get-together at the start of a new business year, also gave out its annual awards.
The lifetime achievement award for 2018 went to Bogomir Strašek, the founder, majority owner and director of automotive supplier KLS Ljubno.
Igor Verstovšek, the co-owner of hi-tech company Cosylab, became Young Manager of 2018.
The Artemide award for breaking the glass ceiling to assume top posts in companies was bestowed on GZS director general Sonja Šmuc and Agitavit Solutions director Anka Brus.
STA, 30 January 2019 - The Slovenian pharmaceutical company Lek, a subsidiary of the Swiss giant Novartis, has announced that it had a very successful 2018 compared to the set objectives, while failing to reveal concrete business results. It did say that it employed an additional 370 people last year to increase the workforce to 4,085.
Lek, which is headquartered in Ljubljana, said in a press release on Wednesday that it was expanding the range of production of healing agents for innovative pharmaceuticals.
Last year, the company launched at the Mengeš location the production of three healing agents for innovative pharmaceuticals, which will enter the market in the coming years.
At other locations in Slovenia, Lek launched the final phases of production of innovative biopharmaceuticals, the press release says.
In Mengeš, located some 10 km north of Ljubljana, the company is building a EUR 38m facility for the production of biological agents, which "will boost the role of the location as a key Novartis centre for biotechnology".
Since 2003, Novartis has invested more than EUR 2.3bn in Slovenia, with more than half intended for development, and the rest to modernisation and expansion of the production facilities.
Lek also announced that it employed an additional 370 people last year, with the number of employees standing at 4,085 at the end of 2018, while "continuing to optimise and adjust the production network in Slovenia."
"By increasing the market share to 30.1% in 2018, Lek has solidified its position as the second largest provider of generic drugs in Slovenia and strengthened its position of the market leader in the non-prescription drug segment," the release reads, the full text of which can be read here.
January 24, 2018
The Ministry of Justice (Ministrstvo za pravosodje) is considering opening the Slovenian penal system to private investors. This is evident from the Ministry's recent call for bids to carry out a preliminary procedure and legally test the public-private partnership in building one and renovating another of Slovenian prisons.
Slovenia has already been punished at the European Court of Human Rights due to overcrowding and poor living conditions in its prisons, and is hence addressing the issue by solving two of its most pressing issues. The first is related to the male prison currently located at Povšetova street in Ljubljana, which is planned to be closed and the prisoners moved to Dobrunje, although this facility is yet to be built. The second is related to the female prison in Ig, which is in need of renovation and enlargement.
It seems that in order to address a lack of funding, the Ministry is now looking into the possibility of developing both projects to cooperation with private investors.
STA, 22 January 2019 - The Civil Aviation Agency has found that the Slovenian carrier Adria Airways is able to secure long-term solvency, which means that it will keep its operating licence.
The agency has found that the planned and implemented measures presented by Adria show that the carrier is able to settle all of its liabilities in the long term and meet all the legal requirement, demands and criteria for keeping the operative licence, according to a press release from Adria.
The agency reportedly also confirmed in several different procedures that Adria met the required technical demands for ensuring adequate air safety.
Adria CEO Holger Kowarsch said he had expected no other decision given that Adria had been meeting all the demands for the operating licence all along.
"I regret that so many false and misleading reports were published about the state and operations of our company in recent months, and at the same time I look forward to being able to continue to implement our strategic plan undisturbed ..." he said.
Adria plans to additionally optimise its network of flights and add new flights while preserving all of its key connections to the main European hubs, Kowarsch announced.
After a thorough inspection last summer, the Civil Aviation Agency established that Adria Airways was no longer capable of settling its liabilities, so it ordered the German turnaround fund 4K Invest, which acquired the former flag carrier three years ago, to recapitalise the company in order to secure long-term financial sustainability.
The German fund injected EUR 4m in Adria Airways at the end of 2018, while announcing that an additional EUR 10m capital hike was in the pipeline for the first quarter of 2019.
Adria had until the end of last year to submit documentation assuring that it can secure long-term solvency.
The carrier posted a net loss of EUR 5.4m in 2017 after finishing in the black the year before due to the sale of its brand. The negative result was attributed to rising fuel prices as well as to the termination of cooperation with two European carriers.
The company announced in October it would not manage to get out of the red in 2018 either, mostly due to high fuel prices.
STA, 22 January 2019 - Brewer Pivovarna Laško Union has won a damages suit against its former CEO Boško Šrot, with the latter being ordered to pay EUR 51m to its former employer, the news portal Siol reports.
The brewer's corporate affairs director, Tanja Subotić Levanič, could neither confirm nor deny the information when asked to comment by the STA.
According to Siol, the brewer has already applied for enforcement against Šrot and his family business Atka-Prima with the Celje District Court in a bid to seize his assets.
The beverage group, which was taken over by Heineken in 2015, brought a EUR 13.3m damages claim against Šrot in 2011 arguing damages incurred through the financing of his management buyout.
The Celje District Court found that Šrot was responsible for his actions early in 2016 after which Šrot unsuccessfully appealed with the Supreme Court.
He is currently serving a prison sentence of almost six years for abuse of power in the leveraged management buyout of the beverage group between 2008 and 2009.
Damages suits against Šrot have also been brought by the beverage group's subsidiaries that have since been sold, that is mineral water company Radenska, fruit drinks maker Fructal and newspaper publisher Delo.
Siol says that the companies would probably never get the damages awarded because the Šrot family has protected most of its assets from seizure, while seized assets would not even cover court costs.