The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, November 16, 2018.
Mladina: Government. Did Not Prepare for NLB Sale
STA, 16 November 2018 - The weekly Mladina is critical of the government for what it sees as a blunder in the sale of the bank NLB. The government planned to preserve control over the bank through state-owned companies, but then the securities market watchdog said it could not be done. The government obviously walked into this without having prepared properly.
Mladina editor-in-chief Gregor Repovž even goes as far as to compare the state to an adult movie actress who once said that she was "the sort of girl who doesn't research in advance. I just go".
Looking back at how the sale unfolded, Repovž says that the sale prospectus presentation attracted representatives of pension and investment funds directly or indirectly controlled by the state.
The concept of controlling companies through state-controlled firms is well-established abroad, the weekly notes.
The combined share of the state and its companies usually amounts to about 40%, however the rest of the stock is so dispersed that the share suffices to control the company.
"We assumed that the government was planning something like this and it seemed prudent," Repovž says in the editorial. "Finally somebody knew what they were doing."
But then the Securities Market Agency issued a legal opinion saying that legislation regulating privatisation and investment funds made it impossible for state-related institutions to buy NLB stock.
"Because we were watching the matter closely, we learnt that this was a surprise for Slovenian Sovereign Holding, as well as the government. How is that even possible!"
Unofficial statements indicated that the government had no clue about the stock ownership in the bank. But intending to keep 25% and one share, the state should be aware of every share, the weekly says.
"We heard later that state-owned and para-state funds will be able to buy shares on the stock exchange. But such light-heartedness demands the dismissal of the heads of the Sovereign Holding and the finance minister."
Demokracija: NLB Sale to be Welcomed
Ljubljana, 15 November - The right-wing weekly Demokracija welcomes in its latest commentary the sale of the NLB bank, saying that there will be no more "free lunches" for the "leftist comrades" who are used to being fed by taxpayer money.
The "comrades" are screaming that it was a heist and that Slovenian Sovereign Holding should have rejected the "shameful price" EUR 51.50 per share, editor-in-chief Jože Biščak says under the headline Colour of Money.
He adds that the mindset of socialists in Slovenia is vividly described by a statement by chemist and economist Peter Glavič, who complained that "once foreigners get hold of Slovenian banks, they will decide whom to give a loan and whom not."
While Glavič is afraid for Slovenia's economic and political sovereignty, Bičak asks the readers whether they had been able to come to a NLB office and ask not for a EUR 100,000 loan, but for a EUR 300,000 loan, as Glavič claims.
"Of course not. In the best case you would be escorted out of the office by a security guard," the commentary says, adding that big loans (usually without adequate collateral) were being given to the chosen ones who "used NLB as an ATM or for money laundering".
Biščak admits that the price is low, but says that it was determined by the market. "The culprits for the multi-million loss are known: Miro Cerar, Karl Erjavec and Dejan Židan, who had broken promises, procrastinated and feigned ignorance."
Taxpayers will continue to pay down NLB debt for years, but this is better than throwing new billions at the bank in a year or two, so that it would remain "ours".
Something is certain, this is the end of "comrade loans" at the expense of taxpayers. If the bank ends in trouble, the owners will have to recapitalise it on their own, and "NLB will need to learn how to drive on macadam", concludes the commentary.