Business

01 Apr 2022, 14:07 PM

STA, 31 March 2022 - Enter Štajerska, an information office organised by the regional chamber of commerce to support domestic as well as foreign companies interested in doing business in this north-eastern region, opened in Maribor today.

Štajerska Chamber of Commerce director Aleksandra Podgornik described the office as an entry point for the launch of a company, for legal assistance, networking and support.

She noted the region's long entrepreneurial tradition as well as the export-oriented nature and strong presence of many of it's companies in the European and global business arena.

There are over 16,000 firms in the region, employing almost 80,000 people, mostly in manufacturing.

While located at the crossroads of two European transport corridors, Štajerska also has the Maribor University and other educational institutions, which, combined with a long industrial tradition, provides for a diversity of knowledge, the Chamber of Commerce said.

Enter Štajerska will be the source of information on matters like company launch red tape, residence and work permits, real estate purchases and trademark registration. Advice will also be given to those wishing to establish companies abroad.

Visit the site, in English, here

01 Apr 2022, 10:10 AM

STA, 31 March 2022 - The Slovenian government has capped the wholesale price of regular petrol and diesel two and a half weeks after regulating retail prices. The wholesale price has been set two cents below the retail price.

Wholesalers will be allowed to charge EUR 1.483 per litre of petrol and EUR 1.521 per litre of diesel, a price the government said on Thursday provided a margin that would make it possible for small retailers to secure fuel supplies.

Many small service station operators have complained that they were simply not getting fuel from wholesalers since prices were capped. Either that, or they were forced to buy fuel at a price above the maximum retail price.

Indeed, the government decree explicitly stipulates now that companies selling fuel may not stop deliveries. In the event they incur losses, they will be compensated under a scheme that will be put in place after this temporary measure expires.

Price administration was initially put in place for a month, but today's decree extends it until 30 April.

29 Mar 2022, 16:06 PM

STA, 28 March 2022 - Hourly labour costs averaged EUR 21.1 in Slovenia last year, well below the EU and eurozone averages of EUR 29.1 and EUR 32.8, respectively, despite growing at a brisk pace, show the latest Eurostat data.

At 6%, Slovenia had the third-fastest rate of increase last year behind Lithuania (11.9%) and Estonia (6.6%).

Hourly labour costs ranged from almost EUR 47 in Denmark and EUR 43 in Luxembourg to EUR 7 in Bulgaria and EUR 8.5 in Romania.

Slovenia's labour costs place it in the company of Mediterranean member states, between Spain (EUR 22.9) and Portugal (EUR 16).

Other Central and Eastern European member states had significantly lower costs.

The figures cover all major economic sectors except agriculture and the public administration.

More on this data

28 Mar 2022, 15:45 PM

STA, 28 March 2022 - Finance criticises in Monday's commentary the administrative units for being slow in processing applications for work permits filed by foreigners, saying that these applicants will not sit idle while waiting for a response. This is also important in light of Ukrainian refugees coming to Slovenia.

This is a long-standing problem - there are no workers in Slovenia, foreigners from third countries would like to work, but they have to wait an average of six months for a permit.

On the other hand, the state apparatus says that the matter cannot be speeded up because there is not enough employees, the newspaper says under the headline An F for Administrative Units.

The most surprising data is that 15,000 applications are pending in the Ljubljana administrative unit alone, Finance says, noting that production or construction workers, as well as highly qualified staff, are waiting for a permit.

A new task force has been appointed to deal with the issue, which has assessed that the backlog could be reduced or eliminated in six months, under the assumption that there will be unannounced sick leaves or termination of job contracts.

"Today, when user experience is important, it seems that public administration has gotten stuck in the previous century," Finance says, adding that it is processing mountains of documents and complaining that it does not have enough employees.

A foreign worker cannot sit idle while waiting, and if they are not hired in Slovenia, they will try to get a job in Austria, as he is only tens of kilometres away and where wages are higher.

Noting that Ukrainian refugees are coming, Finance says that the state is all about promises and wonders whether it will now wake up and make sure that refugees sort out the paperwork faster so that they can start to work.

28 Mar 2022, 11:32 AM

STA, 25 March 2022 - EuroJackpot is celebrating ten years of being present in Slovenia. Over the past ten years of the game, lottery players have won more than 5.2 million different prizes worth EUR 116.8 million in total, and four Slovenians have become EuroJackpot millionaires, said state lottery operator Loterija Slovenija.

EuroJackpot in Slovenia has raised a total of just under EUR 62.8 million in funds for Slovenian disability, humanitarian and sports organisations.

The state budget received EUR 31.9 million from taxes on the winnings paid out, and Slovenian municipalities got EUR 11.2 million, Loterija Slovenija said, adding that the funds had been used, among other things, to build an extension to the Grosuplje community health centre and the beer fountain in Žalec.

On the occasion of the 10th anniversary, an additional lottery draw will be introduced, so the game will now be held twice a week. The jackpot can now roll over up to EUR 120 million.

EuroJackpot, a transnational European lottery, was launched in March 2012.

25 Mar 2022, 12:26 PM

STA, 25 March 2022 - The government has issued a regulation on electricity self-supply from renewables that will abolish the net metering concept for solar systems that will be put in place from 2024 in line with an EU directive. The regulation also guarantees new ways to get incentives for electricity self-sufficiency, a move that comes after several NGOs urged this.

The regulation, adopted at Thursday's government session, also introduces a new regime for self-supply generators with a connection capacity of less than 50 kilowatts. The connection procedure has been streamlined for the owners of such installations, the Government Communications Office said.

The energy crisis relief law allows households, household communities and small businesses to install an electricity generator connected to the building's grid.

The main advantage of this self-supply system is that the amount of electricity taken from the grid and the amount put into the grid are balanced out, so the consumer pays only the difference if they have taken more than they have put into the grid. If they have taken less, they pay nothing except some charges.

Although the EU renewable energy directive promotes self-supply, the concept of net metering under the energy crisis relief law is not in line with the EU directive on the electricity market, which stipulates that in the future a grid charge will have to be levied for all electricity taken from the distribution grid.

As a result, those who enter the self-supply system after 31 December 2023 will no longer be eligible for net metering under the new regulation.

However, the basic concept of individual and community self-supply remains unchanged or has been upgraded by the act on the promotion of renewable energy sources and the regulation, as it provides exemptions and partial exemptions from certain levies, the possibility for all end-users connected to the grid to enter the self-supply system, and the possibility to receive investment aid in the form of grants.

The new Energy Agency regulations governing the grid charge are also expected to bring benefits for self-supplying homeowners and businesses, which will be essential as sufficient incentives will need to be provided to boost investment in electricity self-supply as much as possible, the government said.

On Monday, two environmental NGOs urged the government to provide at least EUR 100 million in incentives for electricity self-sufficiency and an upgrade of distribution systems to enable households to generate power from renewables, notably solar. They noted the government was not thinking long-term in its efforts to mitigate the energy crisis and was hindering the energy transition.

22 Mar 2022, 11:35 AM

STA, 22 March - As the Slovenian tourism industry has not yet bounced back from the Covid pandemic while it expects to be also hit by the war in Ukraine, its representatives propose a set of 15 measures the government should immediately take to help the most severely affected companies. They argue the situation is "very serious".

The Tourism and Hospitality Chamber and 15 tourism associations argue in a statement on Tuesday that despite Slovenia having relaxed coronavirus restrictions, the epidemiological situation in the country is not good, which makes its tourism industry less competitive on the global market.

The situation will be further aggravated as a result of the war in Ukraine, which the chamber would like to end as soon as possible.

In 2021, Ukrainian and Russian tourists generated 101,300 nights in Slovenia, while tourism firms expect a 30% drop in March-May and up to a 25% drop in June-August.

"In some destinations which have been focussed on these two markets in recent years, the loss will be 50%," the chamber quoted results of a survey among tourism firms.

Recovery on the two markers is expected to take several years, the war has made tourists in other countries more cautious about travel plans, and the industry is further affected by rising prices of energy, goods and services across Europe.

The chamber thus proposes a one-off bonus for tourism, noting the measure was included in a draft emergency coronavirus bill in March 2021.

The government should also immediately reintroduce the short-time work scheme; the chamber says the Labour Ministry is working on a systemic measure to be ready by the end of the year, which is much too late for the industry.

The chamber also proposes extending the period in which companies which performed better than initially estimated during the coronavirus must return state aid.

The proposal also features several measures regarding staff recruitment, while the chamber welcomes a tender to subsidise air carriers to fly to Ljubljana airport.

"Further delays in adopting these urgent measures will result in countries with more business-friendly practices (Austria, Czech Republic, Italy) to further outperform us and push us to the margin of tourist Europe," the statement reads.

18 Mar 2022, 13:50 PM

STA, 18 March 2022 - A Cuban woman living and working in Slovenia has been discriminated against by a bank, which without warning closed her account because of her nationality, the equality ombudsman has found. It appears that more than one Cuban citizen has been subjected to such treatment.

The Cuban national has been living and working in Slovenia for at least a decade. She has a permanent residence in Slovenia and has no contact with Cuba. As for her Cuban citizenship, she explained that under Cuban law it cannot be easily renounced, Advocate of the Principle of Equality Miha Lobnik said.

She submitted a discrimination complaint with the ombudsman's office after her personal bank account was closed by the bank without explanation or notice, saying this happened on the grounds of her ethnic origin and citizenship.

When she asked the bank for an explanation, it replied that it had unilaterally terminated the bank account agreement in order to adapt its operations to US standards to prevent money laundering and terrorism financing.

The ombudsman assessed that the bank had pursued a legitimate objective in seeking to manage money laundering and terrorism financing risks. However, he also found that the closure of the client's bank account was only partly appropriate and not the only possible or even proportionate measure.

Lobnik confirmed that the bank had indeed discriminated against the Cuban citizen in access to services on the basis of her personal circumstances of nationality.

"The anti-discrimination authority also learned that US regulations do indeed restrict financial institutions from doing business with Cuban citizens, but only if they live in Cuba or have business ties with Cuba," the press release by the ombudsman's office says, adding that notwithstanding the US and potential other restrictions, banks in Slovenia must comply with the Slovenian constitution and other regulations banning discrimination.

The newspaper Delo reported on Friday this was a wider problem since at least seven Cuban citizens living in Slovenia have been reportedly subjected to such treatment by the banks.

Musician and teacher Lazaro Hierrezuelo, who has been living and working in Slovenia since 2010, told the paper that both his personal and business accounts had been closed due to what his bank phrased as a new policy demanded by the new owner and under which they were not allowed to do business with Cuban citizens. At least three other banks subsequently refused his and his compatriots' requests to open accounts, he added.

The ombudsman recently found that a Syrian man living in Slovenia had been discriminated against by a financial company, which did not enable him to use its services.

18 Mar 2022, 11:41 AM

STA, 18 March 2022 - The energy group Petrol generated sales revenues of EUR 4.96 billion in 2021, which is up 61% year-on-year. Net profit was up by 72% to EUR 124.5 million, the parent company said in a press release on Friday. The management will propose a dividend of EUR 30 gross per share for 2021, in line with the adopted dividend policy.

The group last year posted EUR 543.4 million in adjusted gross profit, up 27% over 2020, while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) increased by 43% to EUR 238.1 million.

The majority of this was driven by sales of petroleum products, a fifth was generated by sales of merchandise and related services, and the rest by sales of other energy products, energy and environmental solutions and the generation of electricity from renewable sources.

In 2021 the Petrol group earmarked EUR 233.2 million net for investments in property, plant and equipment, intangible assets and for long-term investments, reads the press release.

"Regional indicators show the strengthening of the Petrol group in Southeast Europe where it generated 28% of its operating profit and 31% of the EBITDA in 2021."

At the end of last year, the group's retail network comprised nearly 600 points of sale, of which almost a half were abroad.

The year was again marked by the Covid-19 pandemic and related restrictions. Another external factor affecting the company's operations last year was the energy crisis, which saw energy price hikes, especially in terms of electricity and natural gas, whose prices reached historic levels.

The group said it had managed to adapt to both factors and mitigate their negative effects, "and what is more, it has even exceeded the ambitious goals".

Under its 2021-2025 strategy, the group aims to diversify its operations towards the energy transition. "This segment's EBITDA accounted for 26% in 2021. As many as 62% of investments were earmarked for the energy transition."

On Thursday, the Petrol supervisory board proposed to the general assembly of Petrol shareholders a dividend for 2021 of EUR 30 gross per share, chief supervisor Janez Žlak and CEO Nada Drobne Popović announced in a separate statement.

Touching on the situation in Ukraine, the group said it had no subsidiaries or representative offices in Ukraine, Russia or Belarus.

It also explained that the share of sales revenue generated by the group in these markets was insignificant and that the procurement of energy products in these markets, with the exception of natural gas, represented a small share of Petrol's portfolio.

For Petrol, Russia as a source of supply in 2021 and the first two months of 2022 for diesel and extra light heating oil accounts for less than 7%. However, no petrol is imported from Russia, the group added.

18 Mar 2022, 11:18 AM

STA, 17 March 2022 - Drug company Krka, which has significant exposure to the Russian and Ukrainian markets, said on Thursday it could not yet assess the impact of the current situation in these two countries on its operations in 2022. But it stressed it had a strong capital structure, robust money flow and no financial debt, so long-term operations were not at risk.

According to unaudited consolidated business results, Krka generated EUR 1.57 billion in revenue in 2021, up 2% from 2020. Net profit was up 7% to EUR 308.2 million, which is slightly more than what was reported in a preliminary report at the end of January.

The results in 2021 were not affected by the war in Ukraine and the impact on the 2022 results could not yet be assessed. Any changes to the projections for 2022 will be presented when reliable short- and long-term assessments of the consequences of the war will be possible, Krka said.

Krka is active in Ukraine and Russia through its three subsidiaries and the parent company Krka Novo Mesto.

TOV Krka Ukraine, which deals only with marketing and has no production facilities, is based in Kyiv, and Krka-Rus OOO, a drug manufacturer, is based in the town of Istra near Moscow, while its marketing and sales offices are in Moscow.

Russia is Krka's largest single market, where the group generated EUR 333 million in sales last year, which is 21.3% of its total sales.

In Ukraine, which was the third largest market for Krka in 2021, sales reached EUR 96 million, which is 6.2% of the group's total sales.

In Ukraine, all measures have been taken to preserve the health and security of the staff, and pharmaceutical products are being shipped in line with expectations given the circumstances, Krka said.

Sales in Ukraine for the first quarter of 2022 has been estimated at EUR 25.9 million, up from EUR 22 million in the same period last year.

In Russia, all activities are running without any major disruptions, although some delays are being recorded in transport.

Krka is selling its products in the Russian market in the local currency so it is exposed to some risks given the current depreciation of the ruble. The estimated sale in the first quarter was slightly up to EUR 79.9 million.

The key short-term risks for Krka are the current situation in Ukraine, economic sanctions, volatility and depreciation of the rouble and credit risks.

Medicines are not subject to sanctions - neither in exports nor imports. Krka estimates that other markets and sales regions will not be directly affected by the situation, while indirect impact on the other markets of the eastern Europe region will depend on the duration of the war.

Krka has been present in the markets of eastern Europe for more than 50 years and has been exposed to many challenges, which have in the long term further enhanced its market share, Krka said in a press release.

It added that its robust business operations were based on a system of vertical integration, which ensured resilience against external shocks and responsiveness to the rapidly changing market situation.

17 Mar 2022, 15:07 PM

STA, 17 March 2022 - US industrial conglomerate Textron, the owner of the Beechcraft, Hawker, and Cessna brands, has signed a deal on the acquisition of the Slovenian maker of ultralight aircraft Pipistrel. Pipistrel founder and CEO Ivo Boscarol will remain a minority owner. The deal is worth EUR 218 million, according to financial information provider Thomson Reuters.

With Textron, Pipistrel will have access to greater resources, technical and regulatory expertise and a global aircraft sales and support network, enabling it to accelerate its development and certification of electric and hybrid electric aircraft, Pipistrel said on Thursday.

Textron, which has confirmed the deal, has committed to maintaining Pipistrel's brand, headquarters, research and development, and manufacturing in Slovenia and Italy, while making additional investments in Pipistrel for the development and production of future products.

When the sale is closed, Textron plans to form a new business segment, Textron eAviation, focused on the development of sustainable aircraft, which will include Pipistrel.

Textron eAviation will be based in Wichita, Kansas.

Boscarol, Pipistrel's founder and CEO, will remain a minority owner as well as chairman emeritus, consulting on future product plans and strategies for a two-year period.

The transaction is expected to close during the second quarter of 2022, subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.

"Pipistrel puts Textron in a uniquely strong position to develop technologies for the sustainable aviation market and develop a variety of new aircraft to meet a wide range of customer missions," said Textron chairman and CEO Scott Donnelly.

"Today's announcement supports Textron's long-term strategy to offer a family of sustainable aircraft for urban air mobility, general aviation, cargo and special mission roles," he said, adding that "Pipistrel has been celebrated as one of the world's most important and successful manufacturers of electric aircraft".

"Under my 30-year leadership, Pipistrel's team has achieved a unique prime position in personal, affordable, environmentally friendly and electric aviation. The trend and foundation for future projects have clearly been set," said Boscarol.

The Ajdovščina-based Pipistrel, which employed 250 people in June 2020, posted EUR 32 million in total revenue in 2020 with record high net profit of EUR 4.5 million.

It has received many awards and won the Nasa Cafe Green Flight Challenge three times. In 2011, it received the Golden Order for Services from the Slovenian president for its contribution to the development of environment-friendly technology.

Apart from Pipistrel Aircraft, the group comprises R&D arm Pipistrel Vertical Solutions, production facility Pipistrel Italia, and Pipistrel Asia Pacific.

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