Business

11 Mar 2020, 12:06 PM

STA, 11 March 2020 - Slovenia exported EUR 3 billion worth of goods in January while it imported EUR 2.8 billion. Exports were up 10.6% and imports 5.2% in year-on-year comparison, the Statistics Office said on Wednesday. The export/import ratio was 107.5%.

A surplus in external trade was recorded year-on-year for January for the seventh consecutive time and it now reached the highest January level with EUR 207.4 million.

Slovenia recorded a slight drop in external trade with EU countries, as exports to these countries decreased by 0.8% and imports from them by 2.2% compared to January 2019.

The value of exported goods reached EUR 2 billion and of imported goods EUR 1.9 billion. Slovenia generated 68% of exports and 68.9% of imports in trade with EU countries.

Meanwhile, both exports and imports with non-EU countries were up, by 46.4% to EUR 954.5 million and by 26.5% to EUR 862.6 million, respectively.

The country generated a surplus of EUR 91.9 million in trade with non-EU countries, mostly on account of a rise in trade with Switzerland.

For quite a while, trade in pharmaceutical products with Switzerland has been on the rise since the Swiss pharma giant Novartis opened a logistics and distribution hub at Ljubljana airport serving this part of Europe.

You can see more of this data on SURS

11 Mar 2020, 10:01 AM

STA, 10 March 2020 - The Constitutional Court has stayed the implementation of an act providing easier access to recourse for roughly 100,000 investors who lost their investments during the banking sector bailout of 2013. The court announced this on Tuesday, two months after the central bank challenged the legislation.

Banka Slovenije said in January that "the most controversial parts of the law affect monetary financing and the financial independence of the central bank".

The act makes Banka Slovenije financially liable for lawsuits from wiped-out investors and mandates it to set aside reserves for damage payments that most estimates suggest could approach a billion euro.

While the legislation is stayed, limitation periods have also been suspended for damage claims as set down in the banking act and for the filing of lawsuits, the Constitutional Court said.

Moreover, Banka Slovenije and the Maribor District Court must remove from their websites posts required by the law on judicial protection procedure for former holders of eligible liabilities of banks.

The data room manager, the Maribor District Court and the Securities Market Agency must suspend all data processing except data storage and must also prevent access to the data.

The Constitutional Court also ordered suspension of all civil law procedures filed under this law and said in the press release that the decision to stay the legislation was unanimous and that the case was a priority.

The court said it decided to stay the act in its entirety because its provisions were very closely interlinked. Constitutional Court judges believe there could be a number of hard-to-mitigate consequences.

Among other things the documents in the virtual reading room could be confidential or contain business secrets, whereas the act allows access to a potentially large group of people.

Some hard-to-mitigate consequences could be related to efforts and expenses of clients and with organisational issues of the Maribor District Court, the only competent court for these cases.

Meanwhile, the Finance Ministry said that it was still examining the decision of the Constitutional Court, while the central bank reiterated its case in a statement.

The Association of Small Shareholders again urged the government and the National Assembly to reconsider a compensation scheme or out-of-court settlements. The compensations scheme would resolve immediately resolve the problems of most small shareholders.

The law on judicial protection procedure for former holders of eligible liabilities of banks was passed in late-2019 after the Constitutional Court said in 2016 that a provision of the law on banking did not give the subordinated creditors and shareholders effective access to recourse.

The 2013 bail-in was managed by Banka Slovenije in conjunction with the government, the European Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB). It resulted in the erasure of roughly EUR 600 million of subordinated bank bonds and shares in several banks held by roughly 100,000 shareholders, which had by then been almost worthless.

09 Mar 2020, 17:21 PM

STA, 9 March 2020 - The benchmark index on the Ljubljana Stock Exchange suffered the sharpest decline since the early stages of the financial crisis on Monday, moving in lockstep with global markets spooked by the potential impact of the global spread of coronavirus on economies around the world.

The SBI Top lost 7.28% to 817.92 points, the third sharpest decline since its introduction in 2006 and the biggest daily loss since October 2008, as the sell-off affected all blue chips regardless of industry.

Drug maker Krka and insurer Zavarovalnica Triglav were the hardest hit, the former losing 9.2% to EUR 63 and the latter down 9.4% to EUR 29. Another insurer, Sava, was down 7.3% to EUR 17.80.

Telekom Slovenije and port operator Luka Koper also lost in excess of 7%.

The only major issue to lose less than 5% was energy group Petrol, which was down 3.7% to EUR 340.

Turnover approached EUR 6 million, several times the normal daily volume.

With the market now being cheaper, perhaps you’d like to learn more about the SBI Top and the companies it includes – you can do that here

07 Mar 2020, 11:30 AM

STA, 7 March 2020 - Detection of business opportunities by individuals in Slovenia has been improving in recent years, shows the latest Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. More than half of Slovenians perceived business opportunities last year, which compares to 38% in 2016, the Maribor Faculty of Economics and Business has announced.

Asked whether they personally had the skills and knowledge to start a new business, 57.5% of the surveyed Slovenians answered affirmatively, which places Slovenia 26th among the 50 surveyed countries around the world.

More than 60% of Slovenians said they knew someone who had started a new business, which ranks the country 14th, while the country is 30th in terms of the share of those who think there are good opportunities to start a business in their area (47.6%).

Almost 55% think that it is easy to start a business (21st), 42.2% have fear of failure (27th), while 15% have entrepreneurial intentions (29%), shows the GEM 2019/2020 global report.

Total early-stage entrepreneurial activity rate in Slovenia is at 7.8%, up from 6.4% in 2018, putting Slovenia in 40th place globally, and in 15th place among the 21 surveyed European countries.

Miroslav Rebernik, the head of the GEM survey team in Slovenia, said that the results showed that creating more profit was by no means the only driver of entrepreneurial activity of the new generations.

"The conscious shift towards more sustainable entrepreneurship is getting stronger, although the desire for creating higher profit still remains a strong motivator," he added.

On a scale from zero (insufficient status) to 10 (very adequate), Slovenia fared the best in physical infrastructure (7.06), while also doing well in internal market dynamics (5.36) and government entrepreneurship programmes (5.13).

"The mark for government entrepreneurship programmes increased the most on average for a second year in a row," noted team member Katja Crnogaj.

The most positive features of Slovenia's business environment include government programmes for small and medium-sized companies intended for the earliest phases of entrepreneurial activity, and the good support environment for start-ups, she added.

Overall, the survey suggests that the conditions which should be developed the most are education at the primary and secondary level, and transfer of research and development to business, which also applies for Slovenia.

The full report can be read in PDF form here, with the section on Slovenia on page 45

06 Mar 2020, 18:15 PM

There was considerable interest in yesterday's story on GDP per capita (expressed in PPP terms) in the EU for 2018, which noted the difference between east and west Slovenia, as well as the latter's integration into the area of richer regions stretching north, likely fuelled by the manufacturing might of Germany.

gdp per capita slovenia eurostat.JPG

The map from yesterday's story. Source: Eurostat

So today we dig a little deeper into the GDP per capita data for Slovenia’s 12 statistical regions in 2018, as released by SURS. The map at the top of the page tells the story, as does the following chart, revealing that  Osrednjeslovenska – the centre of the country, with Ljubljana – has 141.1% the average GDP per capita for Slovenia as a whole. The coastal area, Obalno-kraška, is the only other region to be above average, at 102.5%. The poorest region in this regard is Zasavska, with just 52.4% of the average GDP per capita.

GDP per capita by region slovenia 2018 chart.png

If you’d like to dig deeper into the differences between the 12 statistical regions and 212 municipalities, then you can learn how to do so here. If you want to see how Slovenia’s GDP ranked against other formerly communist countries in Europe in the period 1992 to 2017, then you can do that here.

06 Mar 2020, 16:19 PM

STA, 6 March 2020 - Certain hotels in Slovenia have been temporarily closed in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, the head of the Slovenian hotelier association Gregor Jamnik told the STA on Friday, highlighting that the situation was serious, with hotels recording cancellations and few new bookings on a daily basis.

The situation varies according to individual hotels - spas are less affected than accommodation facilities in Ljubljana, lakeside resort Bled and on the coast, said Jamnik.

Currently, hotels in the capital are detecting a 30% decrease in occupancy rate and an even bigger slump in revenue. So far, there is no detailed information provided for other parts of Slovenia.

Apart from closing doors for the time being, certain hotels have already started slimming down their workforce as well, said Jamnik, adding that the revenue lost to the outbreak would be impossible to offset.

Meanwhile, the Chamber of Trade Crafts and Small Business (OZS) warned today that Slovenian small businesses, including hoteliers, coach companies and pub and restaurant owners, were already feeling the ramifications of the coronavirus spread, urging the government to introduce temporary tax exemptions and sick pay subsidies.

Tourist guides expressed concern over the situation as well, listing cancellations spanning the entire tourist season and a looming threat of complete loss of income.

There are currently seven confirmed cases of infection with the novel coronavirus in Slovenia. The outbreak has taken a heavy toll on Italy, one of Slovenia's key tourist markets. The Foreign Ministry advised today against all travel to northern Italy and against non-urgent travel to other parts of the neighbouring country.

Small business group calls for tax relief and subsidies

STA, 6 March 2020 - Small businesses are already feeling the effects of the novel coronavirus spread, shows a recent survey by the Chamber of Trade Crafts and Small Business (OZS) indicating that some 80% of its members experience disruption. The chamber is thus urging the government to introduce temporary tax exemptions and sick pay subsidies.

Among those already seeing a slump in sales and demand are pub and restaurant owners, bus and shuttle companies, and hoteliers.

The survey was conducted between 4 and 6 March and included 233 respondents, who estimate that revenue will be halved in the first half of 2020, said the OZS today, urging tax breaks amid the coronavirus outbreak as well as subsidising paid sick leave for workers on furlough due to the emergency situation.

The OZS proposed additional measures as well, such as allocating funds for keeping companies afloat during the outbreak. "The measures should be adopted as soon as possible since we're already on red alert," said OZS head Branko Meh.

Moreover, OZS pointed to the unenviable situation coach companies have found themselves in since the outbreak, listing cancellations from travel agencies spanning until June and demand dropping by as much as 95%. The chamber highlighted that companies would have to deal with long-term ramifications as well.

The Labour Ministry has already drafted an emergency bill to subsidise pay for workers temporarily sent on furlough. It has announced that it will send the proposal for examination to social partners as early as today so it was ready to be passed should the need arise.

Under the proposal, subsidies would be granted to companies that would be forced to temporarily lay off at least half of their workforce. The workers on furlough for up to three months would get 80% of the average pay for the past three months.

The state would cover 40% of their pay as well as 40% of the pay for the employees under quarantine ordered by the Health Ministry. The remaining 60% would be covered by employers.

The companies claiming subsidies would have to commit to preserve the jobs of the workers on furlough for at least six more months after the start of such temporary lay-offs.

All our stories on coronavirus and Slovenia are here

06 Mar 2020, 09:40 AM

STA, 4 March 2020 - Lotrič Meroslovje (Lotrič Metrology) is the winner of this year's Business Excellence Award conferred by the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology and the SPIRIT agency. The metrology company was also given at Wednesday's ceremony the certificate promoting the EFQM European model of excellence for the next three years.

 This is the second Business Excellence Award for the private company based in Selca, east of Kranj, with the first coming in 2012.

Coming second in this year's selection process was the operator of the Brestanica Gas Thermal Power Plant, which too received the certificate from the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM).

The award ceremony in Ljubljana was attended by Economic Development and Technology Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, who said that business excellence should be put in the spotlight, as it was a foundation for competitiveness.

He added that achieving business efficiency and competitiveness was closely related to digital transformation.

"The ministry is establishing a systemic approach supporting companies, with EUR 32 million to be secured through implementing organisations by the end of the current financial perspective," Počivalšek said.

Moreover, the ministry will earmark EUR 12 million for projects aimed at improving the efficiency of operations and sustainable strategic transformation this year.

Ajda Cuderman, the head of the SPIRIT agency, said on the occasion that Slovenia was making progress on international competitiveness rankings, adding that the results could be further improved by introducing business excellence.

Marko Lotrič, the director of the award-winning company, confirmed in a statement for the STA that the business excellence certificate was "key for opening markets".

"This and the fact that we are a family company are the important reasons why business partners pick us," he said, adding that achieving business excellence was a matter of changes in many fields, including leadership and strategies.

Last year, the Business Excellence Award went to the British-owned car industry supplier GKN Driveline Slovenija, following two years during which the award was not conferred.

You can learn more about the company here

06 Mar 2020, 09:30 AM

STA, 5 March 2020 - The Slovenian ultralight aircraft maker Pipistrel has signed a letter of intent with Australian company Eyre to There for the production of the electric two-seaters Alpha Electro. In the first phase 15 aircraft are to be exported to Australia, later the aircraft would be produced there.

Eyre to There would thus become the first producer of electric planes in Australia. It could produce up to a hundred planes a year, Pipistrel told the STA, adding that the deal with the Australian company is still in its initial phase.

A two-seat electric plane is ideal for flight training, Eyre to There CEO Barrie Rogers told the Australian magazine Aviation.

The 250 flight schools registered in Australia are currently using some 3,400 aircraft for training. A quarter of the training is dedicated to take-offs and landing near airports and Pipistrel's aircraft are very much appropriate for this, Rogers said.

05 Mar 2020, 15:34 PM

STA, 5 March 2020 - Slovenia's per capita gross domestic product (GDP) in purchasing power standards reached 87% of the EU average in 2018, which is up two percentage points compared to 2017. GDP per capita is a key criterion for eligibility for EU structural funds.

The Western Slovenia region exceeded the EU average by 5%, while Eastern Slovenia was at 72%, fresh Eurostat data show. This means the country may see an even bigger drop in the amount of cohesion funds it will have available in the bloc's 2021-2027 financial framework.

Having recorded solid economic growth since 2014, Slovenia saw its economy expand by almost 5% in 2017. In 2018 and 2019 growth slowed but was still significantly above the EU average.

The country's performance in GDP per capita relative to the EU average thus improved by two percentage points each in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

The gap between the Western and Eastern Slovenia has meanwhile been deepening. In 2017, Western Slovenia exceeded the EU average by 2%, while Eastern Slovenia reached only 70% of the EU average.

GDP per capita in the whole country totalled EUR 22,100 in 2018 and purchasing power parity (PPS) 26,400.

In Western Slovenia, GDP per capita stood at EUR 26,500 and PPS at 31,600, while in Eastern Slovenia the figures were EUR 18,100 and 21,700, respectively.

The highest GPD per capita in the EU after the UK exited the bloc was recorded in Luxembourg, where it exceeded the EU average by 163%, followed by Southern Ireland (125% above EU average), and Eastern and Midland Ireland (110%).

You can see more of this data, in PDF form, here

03 Mar 2020, 11:37 AM

STA, 28 February 2020 - Luka Koper, the operator of Slovenia's sole maritime port, saw a group net profit plunge by 32% to EUR 40.4 million in 2019 due to a slowdown of global trade. Revenue remained broadly flat at EUR 228.7 million, six percent below plans, the company said on Friday.

Profit before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) declined by over a quarter to EUR 73.1 million and operating profit (EBIT), at EUR 45.3 million, was 35% lower than in the year before.

The volume of cargo shipments declined across the board, with general cargoes and dry bulk hit particularly hard: the former dropped by 16% and the latter by 17%.

Containers, a major category, saw a small drop in terms of tonnage, but measured by unit (TEU), the transhipment declined by 3%. Cars, another major category, saw a 4% drop.

Liquid cargoes are the only category in which the port registered an improvement, with tonnage increasing by 12%.

The company said that the second half of 2019 had been marked by the cooling of the global economy, in particular the automotive industry, electronics and the production of iron products.

Nevertheless, the bottom line is still 5% above the projections.

In line with the expectations, the results were affected by the implementation of a new business model for port services and the levy on transhipment for the construction of a new Koper-Divača railway.

The return on equity was at 10%, 6.1 percentage points down from 2018 but still 0.4 percentage points above plans.

The figures were also affected by the receipts in damages compensation for a crane to the tune of EUR 9.3 million in 2018 and EUR 0.4 million in 2019.

Going forward, the company will face the challenge of the coronavirus outbreak. CEO Dimitrij Zadel has recently said that the company is yet to feel the impact of restrictions in China.

Zadel would not speculate about expected decline in throughput yet, but he did say that transhipment of goods from China represented 30% of the port's total transhipment.

Related - Invest in Slovenia: Meet the Companies in the Benchmark Investment Index, the SBI TOP

28 Feb 2020, 10:22 AM

STA, 28 February 2020 - The insurance group Sava collected EUR 599.3 million in gross premiums last year, which is 9.7% more than in 2018, while its net profit was up 16.7% to EUR 50.2 million, show the unaudited financial results released by the parent company Sava Re on Friday.

The report says that the gross premium growth was contributed mainly by the Slovenian non-life insurance business, which was up 12.2%, and the non-life insurance business in foreign countries (+20.3%).

Sava Re noted that part of this came from an acquisition in Croatia, with the group member Zavarovalnica Sava acquiring outright stakes in the insurers Ergo Osiguranje and Ergo Životno Osiguranje.

The group's operating revenue was up by 10.1% last year to EUR 584.9 million, while pre-tax profit increased by almost 10% to EUR 60.7 million.

Return on equity also increased by 0.8 of a percentage point compared to 2018 to 13.8%.

The management of the reinsurer Sava Re, the parent company in the group, will present last year's results in detail at a press conference today.

Invest in Slovenia: Meet the Companies in the Benchmark Investment Index, the SBI TOP

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