News

19 Feb 2019, 14:30 PM

STA, 18 February 2019 - The Ljubljana city council has unanimously endorsed a decision that allows furniture giant Ikea to start building its store in Ljubljana's shopping district BTC. The first Ikea shop in Slovenia could open next year.

The councillors endorsed at Monday's session the decision allowing Ikea to apply for an operating permit even though the required access road south of the planned shop has not been built yet.

The land needed to build the access road leading from Kajuhova Street was supposed to be acquired by the local authorities, but the acquisition has been marred by ownership complications.

The land is owned by company Protect GL, which is in receivership, and the municipality has failed to come to an agreement on the price with the official receiver.

In the summer of 2016, the municipality launched expropriation proceedings, which were suspended last autumn on the municipality's own initiative, as it wanted the proceedings to be carried out under the new legislation.

Ikea will now be able to soon launch the construction of the shop, which could open its doors in 2020. The 30,000 sq-metre shop has been estimated at EUR 80m and is expected to bring around 300 jobs.

19 Feb 2019, 13:00 PM

STA, 17 February 2019 - Seven Slovenian companies and two institutions are featured at the International Defence Exhibition (IDEX), a biennial arms and defence technology sales exhibition, which is opening in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Sunday.

The Slovenian defence industry is being showcased at what is the main defence and security exhibition and conference in the Middle East and North Africa under the sponsorship of the SPIRIT investment promotion agency.

The fair, which will run until 21 February, has been held biennially since 1993 to present the latest products in the field of arms and military technology for land forces, air forces, anti-aircraft warfare and naval forces.

In 2017, it saw 1,235 exhibitors from 172 countries, and featured 39 national pavilions. It was visited by more than 100,000 people from 142 countries, SPIRIT said.

The joint Slovenian exhibition area is featuring ammunition and soldier equipment maker Arex, armoured vehicle producer Armas, unmanned aerial vehicle maker C - Astral, measuring equipment producer Dat - Con, protective equipment maker Prevent & Deloza, weapon systems maker Valhalla Turrets and Timtec.

They will be joined by the Slovenian Defence Industry Cluster and the Defence Ministry.

IDEX is one of the twelve international fairs at which the agency provides support for selected Slovenian exhibitors this year.

19 Feb 2019, 12:00 PM

STA, 18 February 2019 - Thermana Laško, the company operating the spa resort in Laško in east central Slovenia, saw its revenue rise by 6% to EUR 22.6m last year, while profit increased by 42% to EUR 1.7m.

According to a press release from the company, the number of nights spent at the resort rose to 187,200 last year from a little below 180,000 the year before.

The nights spent by Slovenian guests were up by 3% and those by foreign visitors by 6%.

The resort's pools attracted more than 210,000 visitors and 27,000 wellness services were sold.

"The company has been complying with the terms set down in the financial restructuring plan by 2023, which it committed to after a successful compulsory settlement," the release reads.

In the 2014 settlement the shareholders lost everything and Thermana passed to the Bank Assets Management Company. The former shareholders are challenging the process.

Thermana, which employed around 480 people last year, is expected to complete this year the first phase of refurbishment of the Laško Spa into a modern health rehabilitation centre.

The company has also opened a EUR 35,000 "nursing oasis" for people in the final stages of dementia at the local retirement home.

19 Feb 2019, 10:25 AM

STA, 17 February 2019 - Innovation is the main engine of Novartis's growth and Slovenia will continue to play a crucial role in innovative technologies, chairman of Novartis-owned pharma company Lek, Zvone Bogdanovski, told the STA in an interview. He highlighted Lek's centre for the production of active substances for innovative medicines in Mengeš.

The pharmaceutical industry is undergoing many changes due to digitalisation and population ageing, and Novartis is responding with a new strategy that focusses on the core business, optimisation, investment in ground-breaking transformative therapies and increasing profitability, Bogdanovski said.

Novartis, which owns Lek, Novartis Pharma Services and Sandoz in Slovenia, is betting on innovation. The Swiss multinational has decided to focus on individualised therapies - cell and gene therapy, and the radionuclide therapy used in cancer treatment, which are costly but effective.

"That's the future, not just for Novartis, but for the entire pharmaceutical industry," the Lek CEO said, adding that the future was also in digitalisation underpinned by big-data analysis, artificial intelligence and biological simulations, which could gradually replace clinical studies.

Novartis's generics division, Sandoz, aims to become a leading producer of generic biological drugs, differentiated generic drugs, drugs with added value and a leader in digital therapeutics, Bogdanovski said.

Since competition in generics is tough, "we won't play where we're not competitive, it does not make sense to slowly wither away."

Bogdanovski believes specialised products with high added value produced on a lower scale are the future. "We're not running away from basic generics, we're only shifting our focus."

He gave a drug that was developed in Prevalje last year, a child-friendly, rapidly dissolving Amoksiklav pill, as an example of Sandoz's drug with high added value. "These are the things we'll be working on in the future," he said.

"The pressure on prices is a global fact, so we're increasing our efficiency and productivity in Slovenia as well."

Sandoz and Novartis appreciate the Slovenian know-how and experience. "So far, we've proved we can master certain ground-breaking technologies and contribute to further growth."

Bogdanovski pointed to the construction of the EUR 38m facility for the production of new biological drugs in Mengeš north of Ljubljana, which is to become operational in a year and a half. "This puts us on Novartis's map as a centre for biotechnology."

Ljubljana boasts one of Sandoz's leading development centres. "It's the largest and best equipped development centre that Sandoz has. The knowledge of the experts working there is exceptional. The centre creates more than 20 new molecules a year and launches them around the world. In recent years, we're talking about over a hundred of the most demanding new drugs."

In Prevalje, where Sandoz has a production facility for its flagship product Amoksiklav, a new factory has been built, but is currently on hold. The decision on the continuation of the project in Prevalje has not been made yet but everything should be clear in the coming months.

Last year, two famous brands of Lek's over-the-counter drugs, Persen and Neopersen, were sold to Alvogen, a US pharmaceutical company, but Bogdanovski could not speak of any other potential sales.

"Sandoz's focus is on biosimilars, crucial generic products with high added value, so on the areas we are good at, where we have a competitive edge and cover the key therapeutic areas."

Bogdanovski also said that the sale of Persen and Neopersen and the separation of the generics section in the US were not in preparation for the sale of Sandoz.

While he would not reveal last year's results of Novartis in Slovenia, Bogdanovski said that both revenue and profit were projected to have increased.

With more than 70 drugs in haematology, oncology, cardiology, immunology, dermatology, neurology, pulmonology and ophthalmology, Novartis held a 14.8% market share on the Slovenian pharmaceuticals market last year.

"We're second biggest provider of generic prescription drugs and we're the leader in over-the-counter drugs," Bogdanovski said.

Novartis employed 4,152 people in Slovenia last year, which is 370 more than in 2017. In the last seven years, the headcount increased by more than 2,000.

All our stories on the pharmaceutical industry in Slovenia can be found here

19 Feb 2019, 08:13 AM

Below is a review of the headlines in Slovenian dailies for Tuesday, February 19, 2019, as summarised by the STA:

DELO

Foreign companies
"After Turkish telenovelas, bakers are coming too": The Turkish bakery chain Simit Sarayi has announced the opening of shops in Ljubljana and Maribor, the first one opening in the centre of the capital in mid-March. (front page, 9)

Koper-Divača rail model
"Scores for the model still not settled": A civil initiative has accused the former Infrastructure Ministry State Secretary Jure Leben of lying about the procurement of the controversial scale model of the new rail track from Divača to Koper being rescinded. (front page, 3)

Postal workers' strike cancelled
"Relief for Pošta's business partners": The management of the national postal company Pošta Slovenije has agreed with the two trade unions to invest between EUR 8m and EUR 10m into improving the work conditions, a deal which cancelled a strike planned for today. (front page, 9)

EU election projections
"Weakening of the centre and strengthening of extremists in EU": The first projection of the structure of the European Parliament after the late-May election announces the weakening of centrist parties and the proportionate strengthening of populist, Euro-sceptical and nationalist forces. (front page, 9)

DNEVNIK

Healthcare
"More time for bureaucracy, less for patients": The Health Ministry has sided with doctors who are complaining about the additional administrative burden and has announced legislative changes by the end of the year. (front page, 2)

Ljubljana city council
"Councillors greenlight price hikes and Ikea": The Ljubljana city council decided at yesterday's session to increase prices for public transportation and parking in the capital, and made it easier for the Swedish furniture giant Ikea to start building its shop in the BTC shopping district. (front page, 9)

FINANCE

Loans
"Loans on the cheap for the entire year?": Interest rates in the eurozone remain at record-low levels. and the planned increases of rates in the autumn are being put under question mark. (front page, 2-3)

Real estate auctions
"Most 'prestigious' real estate you can buy from bad banks": The paper looks for the most expensive real estate put on sale by Austria's Heta Asset Resolution and the Slovenian state-owned Bank Asset Management Company (BAMC). (front page, 12-13)

Taxes
"Real estate tax not to happen this year": According to an unofficial, but reliable source, the government will not introduce a real estate tax this year, with the main reason being inaccurate real estate records. (front page, 5)

VEČER

Diplomacy
"Double diplomacy": The paper says that Slovenia's foreign policy is "bipolar", with President Borut Pahor meeting this week EU and NATO leaders in Brussels and Queen Elisabeth II in London, while Prime Minister Šarec is "only" visiting Finland and Egypt. (front page, 2-3)

Anniversaries
"Vestnik celebrates 70th anniversary": The regional weekly Vestnik, which covers the north-eastern region of Pomurje, is celebrating the 70th anniversary. (front page, 14)

Police scandal
"Disciplining criminal police chief": Disciplinary proceedings will be launched against Robert Munda, the head of the Maribor criminal police, who was caught driving drunk on 8 February while being off duty. (front page, 21)

18 Feb 2019, 17:07 PM

February 18, 2019

It is clear that Zala Kralj and Gašper Šantl will represent Slovenia at the 2019 Eurovision Song contest in Tel Aviv. So decided the national broadcaster’s audience in a show called EMA, but only after the jury of three judges made sure that Slovenia doesn’t lose face internationally with some weird metal or turbo oom-pah stuff. Luckily, when we were already pretty much asleep, last year’s winner and one of this year’s judges Lea Sirk,  dropped a double f-bomb at the end of the show in support to the runner-up Raiven. Thanks to her, the nation woke up and is now fighting over which song is better or rather, which one is worse.

Lea Sirk: (f*** come on, I can’t f***ing believe this)

Lea Sirk explaining in backstage: Zdaj je cela senzacija okrog tega, zakaj sem jaz rekla, ozvočena, faking ne morem verjet. In ja, to sem faking mislila: ne morem verjet, ker sem bila prepričana, da bo zmagala Raiven. Ko jih jebe! (Now there’s a total sensation about why have I said, on a mic, I can’t f***ing believe this. And yes, this is what I f***ing meant: I can’t believe (this) cause I was certain Raiven would have won. F*** them!)

Raiven, 22, appeared on the EMA scene three years ago with purple hair and a harp in her hands. She came second but many believed she was the one to revive Slovenian pop with a pinch of that fresh neo-goth feel of hers. A hint that expectations might be running a bit too high was already sensed in her second EMA performance, which cut significantly on the goth and harp input and played extensively on Raiven’s second job as a model. Her third performance on EMA was not as a contestant but rather as the host of the show, and she was the one to announce Lea Sirk as the 2018 winner. That was when her hair was half blue half purple, and Lea’s hair was pastel lavender.

 

The rules of EMA change every year, and this year it was particularly clear that surprise was given as little chance as possible. It was quite apparent that Raiven was the pop establishment’s favourite, and the new rules allowed the jury of three to eliminate from competition everyone but two contestants. Raiven’s performance was announced with the following words: “Every year after the winner of Eurovision is known, dozens of copy-cats emerge, trying to catch that secret recipe for success. But something completely different wins in a year that follows. So, has there ever been a winner with green hair? No. Has there ever been a winner who played harp? No. Has there ever been a winner that is named after a crow? No. On EMA she has performed in the accompanying programme, as its host, was once third and once second. There is nothing left for her but to win. First at home, then at Eurovision.” Then Raiven appeared, without a harp, and put on stage something that looked and sounded very much like Lea Sirk’s performance last year.

 

The jury then offered Raiven and Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl to the public to vote for the winner. The sleepy esoteric duo won the  popular vote in a landslide. They did not have much to say on the impolite behaviour of Lea Sirk, nor the subsequent comment wars on social media. “We do not follow the comments nor do we have time for that ” they stated for the MMC. “EMA is full of a variety of emotions, which is ok, but it is also true that we could be using our opinions to make the world better, not worse.”

18 Feb 2019, 16:05 PM

STA, 15 February 2019 - The European Commission has approved EUR 44.3m for Slovenia for projects as part of the LIFE programme for the environment and climate action, including EUR 27.3m for projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The European Commission has announced it will provide a total of EUR 116.1m for twelve major environmental and climate projects in ten countries.

The funds from the programme, combined with other sources, will mobilise a total of EUR 3.2bn in additional support for projects supporting Europe's transition to a low-carbon, circular economy, the European Commission said.

Slovenia will get EUR 17m for integrated projects carried out together with the Czech Republic, Hungary and Portugal.

The projects are expected to contribute to the preservation of the natural environment and biodiversity and improvement of the management of the Natura 2000 network of nature protection areas.

The European Commission noted that Slovenia had one of the highest biodiversity rates in the EU, with around 38% of its territory being included in Natura 2000.

The LIFE programme is already present in the country, and the additional funds are aimed at securing its long-term functioning and greater inclusion of stakeholders.

Slovenia will also get EUR 27.3m for projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which will focus on the implementation of the national goals.

The projects relate to the construction of infrastructure, emission-free road traffic, carbon sequestration and improvement of energy efficiency of buildings.

18 Feb 2019, 10:35 AM

STA, 15 February 2019 - A photovoltaic array in Jesenice has become the first solar power plant in Slovenia installed on an apartment block. The EUR 36,400 installation operated by energy group GEN-I should pay for itself in seven years and GEN-I expects more such projects to follow given recent legislative changes.

 After as many as 2,000 rooftop solar arrays were installed in Slovenia in the last couple of years, legislation was passed last year allowing apartment buildings, not just single-family homes, to have photovoltaic panels installed.

But the process is not easy. "When we first contacted the residents, we though our chances were slim because the law is not very conducive of such projects. But the residents were incredibly persistent. We gladly followed them and after six months we have the first such solar plant in Slovenia running," GEN-I CEO Robert Golob told the press on Friday.

According to the building's representative Brane Zajović, all residents had to give their consent. In the building with 23 apartments, this meant 55 people.

"Our main goal was to cut our monthly utility costs, which are rising by the year," Zajović said, noting that they had installed a heat pump at the building six years ago, which reduced annual heating costs from EUR 11,000 to EUR 3,000.

In the next seven years, the residents will be paying off the EUR 36,400 investment in the solar power plant in monthly instalments matching their electricity bills so far. After that, they will have no electricity bills, Golob said, noting that the power plant's life span was 30 years.

The photovoltaic solar panels on the building will produce 37,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year.

Although Jesenice does not get a lot of sunshine in the winter, the plant will be only 5% less efficient than it would be in Kranj and 15% less efficient than it would be in the coastal town of Koper, Golob said.

He expects other buildings to follow the Jesenice example, especially since legislative changes are under way to speed up the permit approval process from six months to one month.

Hinko Šolinc of the Infrastructure Ministry said the changes of the relevant decrees were expected to enter into force in March. They will not only facilitate the installation of rooftop solar but also allow buildings in the vicinity of a solar power plant to use surplus power.

18 Feb 2019, 10:33 AM

STA, 15 February 2019 - Slovenian fish supplies, comprising the landed catch and fish farm output, were technically depleted on Friday, February 15. The country will have to rely on imported fish for the rest of the year, said the World Wildlife Fund Adria NGO.

 "Today is the day when we eat up the local fish in Slovenia," said the NGO, adding that the country exhausted its annual fish supply in a month and a half since Slovenia produces only 13% of the fish its residents consume.

Europe is the biggest world market regarding fish and seafood with more than half of the latter is imported. The European Fish Dependence Day is 9 July, while Slovenia celebrates it today.

An average Slovenian consumes 10.8 kilos of fish per year, which is quite a small amount compared to the EU's 22.7 kilos average. Portugal is the country with the highest fish consumption - 55.3 kilos per capita - followed by Spain, Lithuania, France, and Sweden.

The NGO called for the implementation of a sustainable approach in the global fishing industry, warning that fish stocks are severely depleted, in particular in the Mediterranean.

18 Feb 2019, 08:00 AM

STA, 16 February 2019 - The duo of singer Zala Kralj and instrumentalist Gašper Šantl will represent Slovenia at the Eurovision after winning the Slovenian Ema contest on Saturday with an electro ballad entitled Sebi (To Myself).

The duo, for whom this is a break-out performance, were declared winners by televote in a super-final that pitted them against the popular Raiven, who has unsuccessfully tried twice before to secure the Slovenian Eurovision nomination.

The contest featured ten performances selected by a jury from among 100-plus applicants.

The competition jury, which included 1995 and 1999 Ema winner Darja Švajger and last year's winner Lea Sirk, then selected the two super-finalists.

18 Feb 2019, 10:20 AM

STA, 16 February - Alenka Bratušek was unanimously re-elected to lead the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), as more than 200 delegates got together for an electoral congress in Ljubljana on Saturday, four and a half years after the party was established. She was the only candidate for the post.

Addressing the delegates before the vote, Bratušek said the packed Old Power Station was proof the SAB was there to stay after it had already made a mark in politics.

"We're proud of our achievements ... nothing was given to us, what is more, many have tried to undermine us. That's why we are still here and even stronger."

She also reiterated the coalition party would insist on the government taking measures to improve the pensioners' financial standing and the situation in healthcare.

The party, which has three ministers and five MPs, will also push for improving the situation in public education, for a successful economy and human rights.

Bratušek said that as party president she "will always put first the state, people and our common goals which will make Slovenia a better place".

She recalled the time when she entered politics, including when she took over as prime minister (March 2013-September 2014) at the time of the deepest economic crisis.

Thanking all who had helped her and contributed to Slovenia's exiting the crisis, Bratušek could not avoid mentioning the massive bank bail-out in late 2013.

She admitted it had not been easy to decide to inject five billion euro into the banking system, "yet it was necessary if we wanted to avoid the troika and bankruptcy".

However, she was critical that those who had caused the massive bank shortfall had not yet been brought to justice.

She said those who should have been punished were now using the media to divert attention from the bank shortfall to those who had helped save the country.

"We're talking about those who solved the problem instead of those who became rich due to the bank shortfall or sank our flagship companies," she said.

The congress also elected four vice-president; MP Maša Kociper was re-elected and joined by Tatjana Voj, Slavko Šterman and Cohesion Minister Iztok Purič.

Marko Bandelli, who had had to step down as cohesion minister because of interference in the campaign for local elections last year, did not stand for re-election.

To support the fellow coalition party, senior representatives of three coalition parties attended the congress: SD leader Dejan Židan, and the SMC and LMŠ vice-presidents, Lilijana Kozlovič and Jerca Korče.

Židan recalled the times when Bratušek led the government, a member of which was also his Social Democrats (SD), noting they worked together during the hardest of times.

"We had the courage to rescue Slovenia, and this means we respect each other," said Židan.

Several of the speakers at the congress highlighted Bratušek's strong personality, notably her determination, self-confidence and courage, especially when had led the country.

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