07 Mar 2022, 11:54 AM

STA, 7 March 2022 - Slovenia exported EUR 3.5 billion worth of goods in January, or 20.5% more than in the same month last year, while imports surged by 52.1% to EUR 3.9 billion, the Statistics Office reported on Monday. A trade deficit of EUR 400 million was thus recorded for the exports-to-imports coverage of 89.2%.

In January, exports to the EU member states were up by 28.8% year-on-year to EUR 2.4 billion, while imports from these countries increased by 38% to EUR 2.4 billion.

Trade with the EU member states represented 68.5% of the total value of Slovenia's exports and 60.9% of the total value of imports.

Exports to non-EU countries in January were 5.7% higher than in the same month in 2021, to amount to EUR 1.1 billion, while imports from these countries surged by 80.6% to EUR 1.5 billion.

The Statistics Office noted that operations involving processing represented an important share of the value of trade with non-EU countries in January, with such transactions accounting for roughly two-fifths of all exports and nearly half of all imports.

More on this data

02 Mar 2022, 13:21 PM

STA, 2 March - After Slovenia's largest bank, NLB, acquired the Slovenian subsidiary of Russia's Sberbank, Sberbank's operations in Slovenia resumed today with NLB chairman Blaž Brodnjak reassuring clients they have "no reason to worry any more, open accounts at other banks or transfer assets to other banks". They have full access to their money again, he said.

"Sberbank is already part of the NLB group and NLB owns it. Business will be conducted absolutely normally today, cash withdrawals will be unlimited and all Sberbank clients can use NLB ATMs free of charge already," Brodnjak said after Sberbank was closed for two days, and transactions and money withdrawals for clients limited to EUR 400 a day.

There will be no major changes for the 40,000 Sberbank clients, as they will continue to use this bank and keep their bank cards, he added.

NLB will first change the name of the previously Russian-owned bank, which was on the verge of collapse after the Russian bank's European division was forced to suspend operations in the face of the Ukraine crisis.

Then the bank will be gradually integrated into NLB. Only after this process is concluded, which is expected to take over a year, will the bank accounts be transferred to NLB.

Some operative problems may still occur today as the bank reopens but customers should not worry about that, Brodnjak said.

"Sberbank has NLB's potential at its disposal today, and liquidity reserves of billions of euros, which exceed all deposits at Sberbank, have no burdens and can be accessed at any time," he stressed.

Sberbank has its own liquidity reserves as well and now it can also access those of the whole NLB group, he added.

"We will give as much money as necessary, but we are convinced there will be no more rush as of today."

Brodnjak would not reveal how much NLB paid for Sberbank beyond saying that the sum was "appropriate given the circumstances".

The takeover has already been approved by the Competition Protection Agency, which said it had issued a decision on the early implementation of concentration while taking into account the public interest in the Republic of Slovenia.

In line with the relevant law, the agency may exceptionally issue such a decision before authorising the implementation of concentration to a certain extent or under certain conditions.

The condition is that the entity demonstrates in the proposal for acquisition that such implementation is necessary in order to maintain the value of the investment or to provide services of general interest, the agency said.

NLB signed the agreement on the takeover of the only Russian-owned bank in Slovenia with the central bank on Tuesday to preserve the financial stability in the country in the face of sanctions against Russia.

With the acquisition of Sberbank, NLB again becomes the leading Slovenian bank, controlling some 30% of the market measured by total assets to leapfrog the Hungarian OTP Bank Group.

Brodnjak said he was proud to see NLB, which needed to be rescued in the past, assume the role of a rescuer.

Sberbank currently has a dozen branches in Slovenia and NLB will soon have 71. Brodnjak said it was too early to say how the acquisition would affect this number and the number of Sberbank staff in the future.

At the moment, no changes will be made, and the management will also stay the same. However, the NLB will strive to appoint a new supervisory board as soon as possible, he said.

02 Mar 2022, 07:51 AM

STA, 1 March 2022 - Slovenia's largest bank, NLB, has acquired the Slovenian subsidiary of Russia's Sberbank in a move that the central bank said would preserve the financial stability in the country after Russian-owned banks suffered a loss of trust due to sanctions against Russia.

"There were two options for the resolution of the Slovenian Sberbank: either it ceases operations and savers are compensated in accordance with guarantee scheme rules, or it gets a new owner," the central bank said Tuesday evening.

The sale means that Sberbank branches will reopen tomorrow after two days of closure and limited transactions for clients. "All Sberbank clients will conduct banking services without disturbances from tomorrow." [ed. Wednesday]

NLB has acquired Sberbank's equity as well as all assets, liabilities and clients. "This is a fast and effective solution for all clients who suddenly found themselves in a difficult situation," NLB chairman Blaž Brodnjak said in a press release.

"At the close of the transaction, Sberbank Slovenija will get a strong and committed owner who will ensure smooth operation with its capital and know-how," he was quoted as saying.

The decision was reached in agreement with the EU's Single Resolution Board, which determined that Sberbank's subsidiaries in Slovenia and Croatia were "failing or likely to fail due to a rapid deterioration in their liquidity situation," even as it decided no resolution was necessary for their Austrian parent, which will be liquidated.

SRB chair Elke König said the three decisions "protect financial stability and the depositors up to an amount of EUR 100,000 in Austria and with no limits in both Slovenia and Croatia."

"Today, we acted to protect the public interest and ensure financial stability. All of this has been done without having to use public funds, so not only are Sberbank's customers protected, the taxpayer is too."

The price of the NLB transaction has not been revealed. Central bank governor Boštjan Vasle told the TV show Odmevi that there had been significant interest by the largest and most important banking institutions. The Single Resolution Board picked the solution that satisfied the largest number of criteria.

Slovenian Sberbank is the only Russian-owned bank in Slovenia.

01 Mar 2022, 16:44 PM

STA, 1 March 2022 - The Vinakoper winery sent its first shipment of top quality wine to Ghana on Tuesday in what is a major step towards the planned expansion in the African market. The Koper-based winery intends to gradually enter other African countries as part of long-term cooperation with the company M&J Papala.

In recent years, Vinakoper has significantly increased exports and has been focussing on entering new markets.

Apart from exports to Slovenia's neighbouring countries and other EU countries, the winery has been selling its wine mostly to Asian markets, especially Hong Kong, Vietnam and Japan.

The first container ordered by Ghana is the first shipment of Slovenian wines to the African country, which is considered a good point of entry on the West African market.

Currently the wine market there consists of around 30% of imports, mainly from France, South Africa, Italy and Chile.

Vinakoper CEO Borut Fakim said the first package of wines would be a test of the new environment, so a very diverse selection of top quality still and sparkling wines had been sent to the country, which were expected to go very well with local culinary specialities.

01 Mar 2022, 08:22 AM

STA, 28 February 2022 - Slovenia recorded an annual inflation rate of 6.9% in February, with the surging prices of energy being the main contributing factor. Inflation on a monthly level was at 1.4%, the Statistics Office reported on Monday.

Compared to February 2021, the prices of goods were up by 8.5% on average, and the prices of services by 3.7%.

Contributing 1.3 percentage points to the annual inflation rate in February were the higher prices of energy, gas and other fuels (by 19.6%), with the price of electricity increasing by 15%.

The price of gas was up by 25.6%, of liquid fuels by 10.3%, of solid fuels by 11.6% and of heating by 52.1%.

A 26.6% increase in the prices of fuels and lubricants for motor vehicles added one percentage point to the inflation rate in February, as did the higher prices of food (up by 6.4%).

The inflation rate was meanwhile offset by 0.2 of a percentage point by the lower prices in the communications category (-3.6%).

Inflation on a monthly level was at 1.4% in February, with the more expensive food (+2.1%), electricity (+8.4%) and holiday packages (+10.4%) being the main contributing factors.

On the other hand, the prices of footwear were down by 2.7%, of natural gas by 6.7% and of goods and services in the healthcare category by 1.1%.

Measured with the harmonised index of consumer prices, an EU-wide standard, Slovenia's annual inflation ran at 7% in February, and monthly inflation ran at 1.1%.

More on this data

01 Mar 2022, 08:15 AM

STA, 28 February 2022 - Prime Minister Janez Janša has assured Slovenian citizens who have their deposits with the Slovenian subsidiary of Sberbank that their savings are safe after the Russian bank's European division was forced to suspend operations.

"The Financial Ministry is working with Banka Slovenije and EU institutions so that disruption to operations and the transfer of savings deposits to a new owner take as little time as possible," Janša was quoted as saying by the Government Communication Office on Monday.

Janša thus responded to disruption in the banking system due to sanctions imposed on Russia over the invasion of Ukraine after the European Central Bank and the Single Resolution Board decided to suspend the operations of Sberbank Europe, which also has a subsidiary in Slovenia.

Banka Slovenije, the Slovenian central bank, said a moratorium had been imposed to find a fast and constructive solution for the Slovenian subsidiary to allow the clients to resume transactions without disruption.

Until Wednesday morning cash withdrawals and payments are limited to EUR 400 with further details to be presented on Tuesday.

The central bank is looking into several possible avenues to resolve the situation. According to the newspaper Finance these are selling or transferring the bank's assets, liabilities and clients; transferring the bank's assets and liabilities to a new entity partly or fully owned by the state, that is a kind of bad bank; or, alternatively, full transfer to such a bad bank.

Unofficial information obtained by Finance is that the first of the three scenarios, that is an attempt to transfer the clients, possibly to NLB or Gorenjska Banka, is currently playing out in Slovenia. It should be known on Tuesday whether those two banks would in fact submit bids.

The ECB would decide on clearing a potential transfer of clients to another bank applying a "super fast procedure", Finance reports.

After sanctions were imposed on Sberbank, Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj said solutions were being secured that would guarantee the safety of deposit holders. Savings are also guaranteed by the Savings Deposits Guarantee Fund and the state budget, he noted.

"The government is looking into the situation, we are in contact with businesses and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) and we will do everything we can to help businesses," said Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek as he noted that Sberbank worked with businesses on both sides.

"The conclusion we have come to with the GZS is that it's unacceptable to solve crisis with war and that we will, unless a solution is found, insist on the sanctions imposed by the EU, which means the European and our economy will be hurt," he said, promising multi-layered solutions.

28 Feb 2022, 14:20 PM

STA, 28 February 2022 - As transactions with the Slovenian subsidiary of Russian bank Sberbank have been suspended, there are difficulties with welfare payments to Sberbank clients. The Labour Ministry said that some 100 transfers of child benefits had been rejected, and difficulties with other transfers are also expected. 

Sanctions on Russia Leave Sberbank in Slovenia with Limited Operations until Wednesday

The ministry said on Monday that it had been informed by the Public Payments Administration that around 100 payments of child benefits to clients of Slovenia's Sberbank had bounced.

"Transfers for other rights paid by the Ministry of Labour, the Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities are also expected to be rejected," the ministry added in a press release.

The ministry is looking for a solution for the rejected transfers to be re-transferred and is compiling a list of all Sberbank clients, who would be notified by social work centres to report a new transaction account.

The business newspaper Finance has meanwhile reported that the Pension and Disability Insurance Institute (ZPIZ) has managed to transfer pensions to 4,273 pensioners who hold an account in Sberbank.

Finance has also reported that the clients of Sberbank who are employed in state administration have already been urged to open a transaction account in another bank by Friday so that they could receive their wages.

According to the newspaper, such a recommendation has also been issued by some private employers.

The Slovenian central bank said today that, as a consequence of sanctions against Russia, the operation of Sberbank in Slovenia had been temporarily limited to card transactions.

Other services will be unavailable at least until Wednesday, and branch offices closed. Withdrawals and payments are limited to EUR 400 per day.

Slovenia'a Sberbank announced that "in light of recent geopolitical events", a significant outflow of client funds had been recorded in a very short time.

It added that the limited operation was a temporary and "rather drastic measure" that was aimed at protecting the interests of clients and employees from possible additional effects of existing and new sanctions.

Gorenjska Banka Halts Takeover of Sberbank Slovenija

STA, 28 February 2022 - It is not viable to proceed with the acquisition of the Slovenian subsidiary of Sberbank in the current situation, Gorenjska Banka said on Monday after the former's operation was limited in the wake of sanctions against Russia. Gorenjska Banka noted it had not assumed any contractual obligations in the acquisition process so far.

Gorenjska Banka, the Slovenian bank owned by the Serbian AIK Banka, signed an agreement to acquire the Slovenian subsidiary of Russia's Sberbank in November last year.

The appropriate way to salvage the subsidiary to ensure smooth operations for its clients will be determined by Slovenia's central bank, a press release from Gorenjska Banka reads.

Gorenjska Banka meanwhile continues to operate as an independent, autonomous banking institution, ensuring the safety and reliability of banking services both domestically and internationally, the release adds.

Under last year's deal, Gorenjska Banka, AIK and the AEC group - the umbrella holding company of the business system of Serbian businessman Miodrag Kostić - also agreed with the Russian owners to acquire another five Sberbank subsidiaries in the region, including in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Hungary.

Sberbank has been present in Slovenia for ten years and is the ninth largest bank in the country. The Slovenian subsidiary posted a pre-tax profit of EUR 1.12 million at the end of 2020. The bank's capital adequacy ratio was 19.8% and it had a balance sheet total of EUR 1.84 billion.

It is the successor of Volksbank, which had been present in Slovenia since 1993. It moved from Austrian ownership to Russian ownership in 2012, and until recent developments, it was expected that its new owners would come from Serbia.

28 Feb 2022, 13:20 PM

STA, 28 February 2022 - Driven by stimulus-fuelled domestic spending, Slovenia's economy expanded by 8.1% in real terms in 2021 after a 4.2% contraction the year before. In nominal terms it was up 10.9%, show preliminary estimates released by the Statistics Office on Monday. In the fourth quarter GDP grew by a seasonally adjusted 5.4% year-on-year.

Domestic spending surged by 10.8% year-on-year, with final consumption, growing at 9.4%, having a bigger impact on headline growth than investments, although investments expanded by 15.5%, according to the statisticians.

External demand improved as well, but with imports significantly outpacing exports, the trade surplus and hence the impact of exports on GDP actually.

Total employment stood at 1,054,000 at the end of the year, rising by 1.4% over the year before. Employment increased the most in manufacturing, construction, human health and social work activities, and in administrative and support services.

Quarterly figures show GDP growth accelerating, from 1.3% in the third quarter to 5.4% in the final quarter.

More on this data

28 Feb 2022, 11:16 AM

STA, 28 February 2022 - As a consequence of sanctions against Russia, the operation of the Russian bank Sberbank in Slovenia has been temporarily limited to card transactions, the central bank announced on Monday. Other services will be unavailable until Wednesday, and branch offices closed. Withdrawals and payments are limited to EUR 400 per day.

This comes as the European Central Bank (ECB) said that the Sberbank Europe group, including its branches in Slovenia and Croatia, would "fail or is likely to fail", as it would probably not be able to settle its liabilities on time due to deteriorating liquidity.

Banka Slovenije said in a press release that a decision was made on Sunday at the level of the ECB and the Single Resolution Board to suspend the operations of Sberbank Europe, which has a subsidiary in Slovenia.

A transitional period. i.e. short-term moratorium has been adopted, during which a "quick and constructive solution will be found for the Slovenian subsidiary" in order to ensure uninterrupted operation for all its clients, the central bank added.

"For the clients of the Slovenian Sberbank, this means that the bank's operations will be limited to payment card operations from Monday to Wednesday morning. Other services will be temporarily unavailable and branch offices will be closed. During this time, we will find an appropriate way to salvage the bank."

The press release adds that Sberbank was the only bank in the Slovenian banking system that is Russian-owned, while all other banks operated as usual.

The Slovenian branch of Sberbank announced today that "in light of recent geopolitical events" a significant outflow of client funds had been recorded in a very short time.

It added that the limited operation was a temporary and "rather drastic measure" that was aimed at protecting the interests of clients and employees from possible additional effects of existing and new sanctions.

"With this measure, we will limit the excessive outflow of deposits from the bank. A sudden high outflow of deposits would have an even more negative impact on the bank's current operations," the bank said, adding that payment orders would not be executed in the next two days.

The bank noted that it was a Slovenian bank that operated in the local market, that it was regulated by Banka Slovenije and that it did most of its business with Slovenian clients.

Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj commented on the developments by saying that, in addition to sanctions, solutions had been adopted to ensure the security of savers in Sberbank. He noted that savings were safe.

"The security of savings is guaranteed by the Deposit Guarantee Fund, to which banks pay regular annual contributions, and the state budget. In addition, savings of up to EUR 100,000 are secured by state guarantees. This also applies to Sberbank," he added.

Sberbank has been present in Slovenia for 10 years and is currently the ninth largest bank in Slovenia in terms of total assets.

Gorenjska Banka, the Slovenian bank owned by the Serbian AIK Banka, signed a deal to acquire the Slovenian subsidiary of Sberbank last November, but the transaction is now uncertain due to the sanctions against Russia.

Slovenia's Sberbank recorded EUR 1.12 million in pre-tax profit in 2020, and its capital adequacy was 19.8%. Total assets amounted to EUR 1.84 billion.

At the end of 2020, the bank held EUR 1.34 billion in deposits by non-bank clients, of which deposits by individuals amounted to EUR 484 million. Loans to households amounted to EUR 446.69 million, and loans to companies to EUR 755.42 million.

It employed 388 people in the network of 12 branch offices in Ljubljana, Maribor, Koper, Kranj, Celje, Šentjur, Šentjernej and Tepanje, and in the micro entrepreneurship financing centre in Ljubljana.

25 Feb 2022, 10:51 AM

STA, 24 February 2022 - The Slovenia-based banking group NLB posted a record profit of EUR 236.4 million in 2021, a substantial growth compared to the previous year, excluding effects from the acquisition of Komercijalna Banka in Serbia, shows unaudited data published on the website of the Ljubljana Stock Exchange.

"The results of our business operations in 2021 show that we have successfully left the epidemic far behind us and more importantly, that we have emerged from it stronger than ever," said NLB CEO Blaž Brodnjak as the unaudited 2021 results were published.

Last year, NLB acquired Komercijalna Banka Beograd to become a major player in seven markets in South-East Europe, and integrated two banks in Montenegro - NLB Banka Podgorica and Komercijalna Banka Podgorica.

"The supervisory board is pleased that the NLB Group has successfully utilised the opportunities offered by the supportive economic environment of strong GDP growth in the region, healthy private consumption, and loan demand," said Primož Karpe, chairman of the supervisory board.

Net interest revenue was up by 37% to EUR 409.4 million last year, to which Komercijalna Banka contributed EUR 98.5 million. Excluding this, a 4% growth was recorded, mostly due to strong rise in loans.

The growth in net fee and commission income was at 39%, which NLB labelled as "impressive".

The group attributes this to "high demand for investment products, such as asset management and bancassurance products, together with high income from activities related to general business activities".

Loans were up by 9% and deposits by 8%. Deposits from customers increased by 5%, which shows that savers transferred part of their savings to alternative investments.

NLB released EUR 35.8 million worth of impairments and provisions.

In the future, the group plans to focus on intensive digitalisation and improving of user experience and its sustainability.

21 Feb 2022, 10:08 AM

STA, 20 February 2021 - Slovenia's pavilion at Dubai Expo show has attracted more than 550,000 visitors, featuring almost 300 Slovenian businesses at more than 150 promotional events so far, according to SPIRIT Slovenija.

SPIRIT, the investment promotion agency that is responsible for the national Expo project, expects more visitors and business delegations yet with six more weeks to go to the end of the global event.

The Slovenian pavilion is currently hosting events focusing on food and agriculture, the ninth of a total of eleven thematic sections.

Until the end of the show, the national pavilion will welcome at least two more regional delegations, from Pomurje and SE Slovenia, a delegation of tourism companies and ten other business delegations.

The biggest number is expected to attend at the end of March for the major Expo investment meeting, organised by the UAE Ministry of Economy in a bid to establish a framework for global exchange of information on key principles of investment policy, strategy and practice for sustainable development to attain a smart and inclusive global growth.

Slovenia is being promoted at Expo under the slogan Green Smart Experience as a sustainable, modern, creative and forward-looking country that can offer a green environment, expertise, groundbreaking ideas and innovation.

The Expo show is running until the end of March.

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