STA, 17 April 2020 - Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec has approved a 50% reduction in port fees for Luka Koper, the operator of Slovenia's only seaport. Talking to the press as he visited the port on Friday, Vrtovec said that this "discount" would remain in place until September and would be extended if necessary.
The goal is to preserve the port's competitive edge in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, with CEO Dimitrij Zadel expressing satisfaction with the move. Vrtovec believes the reduction in fees will attract international shipping companies.
Zadel said that similar measures to increase the competitive edge had also been introduced at other ports and that this brought the Koper port on par with others. Vrtovec also praised the company for taking adequate precautionary measures, as none of its workers had tested positive for Covid-19.
Moreover, the ministry will also approve subsidies for railway transport in short, similar to other countries, said Vrtovec.
The minister also commented on the construction of a second rail track to the port, confirming that the ministry was looking into the possibility of folding 2TDK, a special vehicle company established for the construction and management of the new track, into Slovenske Železnice, the national railway operator.
However, a definitive answer to this will be possible only after analyses are performed and Slovenske Železnice and other key players are consulted, in about a month or two.
Vrtovec dismissed information that Hungary may join the second track project, saying no talks were taking place, but he underlined the importance of countries in the hinterland for the development of Luka Koper.
In terms of the coronavirus epidemic measures, Vrtovec would not say when public transport may be relaunched. He said however that the government may decide as early as today that vehicle inspection services reopen on Monday.
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.
STA, 24 February 2020 - The novel coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak has so far had no profound effect on Slovenia's economy, but problems have arisen in certain areas. Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek said on Monday that the government was deliberating mitigation measures, such as subsidies to compensate for shorter working time.
The minister pointed out though that any measures to protect public health must not interrupt the flow of goods because the country's exports depended on that.
After meeting several CEOs whose companies have been feeling the consequences of the outbreak, Počivalšek said that the ministry had been keeping track of the situation and its effect on the economy since the start.
He said the situation in Slovenia had been under control so far, but since the country had no influence on future global developments, it needed to be ready to deal with potential challenges.
Despite no major effects being determined so far, the ministry has decided to act in prevention and consider a future strategy in cooperation with economy representatives. Počivalšek intends to present potential measures at the government session on Thursday.
Problems have so far been detected mainly in tourism and logistics while a drop in sales and orders has been recorded in manufacturing, which could lead to a slowdown in production. The government is considering introducing subsidies for those waiting for work to help the affected companies and avoid lay-offs.
Slovenia introduced this measure a decade ago during the economic crisis and Počivalšek said he hoped it would not need to be introduced again.
Closing the borders would be the country's last resort, he stressed.
Slovenia's tourism has been worst hit by the outbreak of the coronavirus - mostly due to travel cancellations of Asian tourists. The situation could be exacerbated by the virus spreading to neighbouring countries.
Last year, 160,00 Chinese tourists visited Slovenia, while Italy is a key market, with 600,000 guests visiting Slovenia a year.
The Slovenian Tourist Board will step up its promotion efforts in nearby countries and it is also hoping to get EU funds for this purpose.
Meanwhile, the Chinese-owned household appliances maker Gorenje said that the situation was under control, but there was some disruption in supplies in China.
Port operator Luka Koper expects to feel the effects of coronavirus in the next two weeks, with its transshipment from or to China accounting for 30% of its total transshipment.
All our stories on cornonavirus and Slovenia are here
STA, 18 February 2020 - With the acquisition of the logistics company Intereuropa finalised, the national postal operator Pošta Slovenije plans to further expand on the markets of the Southeast Europe and make EUR 195 million in investments in the next six years.
The company said on Tuesday, after its strategic development programme through 2025 was recently confirmed by Slovenian Sovereign Holding, that EUR 457 million in revenue was expected to be generated as early as this year.
The new strategy takes into consideration the steep growth of global e-commerce, technological progress, changed habits and expectations of users and liberalisation of postal service market, which puts an emphasis on modern technologies, digitalisation, automation and e-commerce.
Boris Novak, the chairman of the state-owned company, said that Pošta Slovenije would focus its logistics and parcel services on the markets of the Southeast Europe, which was expected to result in further growth of the entire group.
One of the key points of the development programme, which is expected to secure balanced growth and profitability over the next six years, is further expansion in Southeast Europe, which was made possible with last year's acquisition of Intereuropa.
The plan envisages a total of EUR 195 million in investments until 2025 in Pošta Slovenije and Intereuropa, which employ a combined 8,000 people. The bulk of funds will go for automation and digitalisation in postal logistic centres and in transport, as well as for expanding capacities.
"We will also invest a lot in energy efficiency and sustainable development, both in terms of the car fleet and energy efficiency of the network and buildings," added assistant director Vesna Kos Tomažič.
The company will continue to optimise the postal network, and expects that its network at the end of 2025 will feature a combination of its own postal offices, franchise offices, self-service parcel terminals and other solutions.
Pošta Slovenije wants to become a leading provider of parcel distribution services in Slovenia, and it plans to generate more than half of its revenue with logistics and parcel services as early as this year.
STA, 9 January 2020 - Luka Koper, the operator of Slovenia's only seaport, generated EUR 224.5 million in net sales revenue last year, a 1% uptick compared to the previous year, preliminary data show. Meanwhile, ship-to-ship transshipment dropped by 5% over 2018 to 22.8 million tonnes, the group announced on the website of the Ljubljana Stock Exchange on Thursday.
Container transshipment stayed level over 2018, while liquid cargo transshipment increased by 12%. On the other hand, bulk cargo transshipment decreased by 17%, vehicle transshipment by 4% and general cargo transshipment by 16%.
Luka Koper said that liquid cargo transshipment was record-high in 2019, mainly due to favourable trends in fuel transport and sufficient terminal capacities.
The second half of 2019 was marked by economic cooling, which affected Luka Koper's operations as well, most notably in goods transshipment. Apart from manufacturing slowdown, the situation was made more precarious by trade wars and political conflicts overseas.
All our stories about Luka Koper are here
STA, 8 November 2019 - Slovenia and Vietnam listed logistics, information and communications technology (ICT) and tourism as areas with most untapped potential for cooperation at the second session of the Slovenian-Vietnamese intergovernmental commission for economic cooperation, chaired by Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek and his counterpart Tran Tuan Anh.
The ministers met ahead of the session, discussing current issues of the two countries' economic cooperation and coming to a conclusion that there are opportunities for strengthening cooperation in various sectors, in particular in transport and logistics, ICT and tourism, said the Economy Ministry.
Vietnam has the greatest potential for reinforcing Slovenian exports among all countries of South East Asia, according to the ministry.
Bilateral trade, reaching over EUR 52 million last year and more than EUR 26 million in the first half of 2019, is still below the capacities of both economies; however, it shows a positive trend.
The commission has an important role in recognising those opportunities, with the two sessions focussing on specific ways to strengthen the economic cooperation in the areas with most potential as well as in agricultural mechanisation and food processing.
Počivalšek held talks with Industry Minister Tran Tuan Anh and Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh to discuss opportunities in foreign direct investments, digitalisation, agricultural machinery and the wood processing industry.
He said the recent signing of the EU-Vietnam free trade agreement would lead to increased trade since "a stable and predictable business environment creates new opportunities for the trading partners".
Počivalšek started a two-day visit to Vietnam on Thursday accompanied by a government and business delegation, including eleven Slovenian executives who held separate meetings with government officials.
A business conference was held in Hanoi where business opportunities in Slovenia and Vietnam were presented; more than 40 Slovenian and Vietnamese companies participated in bilateral business meetings.
STA, 16 October 2019 - The Slovenian Chamber of Craft and Small Business (OZS) and the Croatian Association of Hauliers called for eliminating traffic jams at the countries' border crossings at a meeting in Croatia on Wednesday. Road congestions on the border are causing enormous economic damage, according to the hauliers.
Peter Pišek, the head of the OZS hauliers' section, said that hauliers from both countries were experiencing unreasonably long queues at the border crossings due to the border authorities' ineffective system.
"This is problematic particularly at the start of the week when crossing the border could take up to 10 hours. Since hauliers have strictly limited working hours, they cannot continue working on the day they cross the border," said Pišek in a OZS press release.
The chamber has also pointed out that hauliers from both countries had been striving for a session of the Slovenian-Croatian haulage commission to be held and include police representatives from both countries.
Both organisations believe that the commission needs to establish ten border crossings between Slovenia and Croatia as soon as possible to allow an easy and unlimited haulier passage. The commission's meeting has been postponed a number of times for unknown reasons.
The hauliers would like to see new haulage rules, including in regular weekly rest periods and changing posted worker regulation so that a person would be a posted worker only if they performed cabotage operations.
Moreover, they advocate the development of secure parking places that are equipped with hygiene and recreation facilities, and could thus serve as a resting period place.
STA, 15 October - Yusen Logistics, a Japanese supply chain logistics company, opened on Friday its subsidiary in the coastal town of Koper, thus becoming the first Japanese freight forwarder in Slovenia. The launch is an important step for the port operator Luka Koper as well since it promotes the transport route via Koper.
The first Japanese logistics subsidiary in Slovenia will also help popularise Slovenia's sole maritime port among Japanese logistics providers, who still prefer the ports in northern Europe.
Yusen Logistics, employing more than 24,000 workers and managing a global network of subsidiaries, has been so far providing services for Slovenia from their Budapest division, said Luka Koper.
The opening was attended by Luka Koper CEO Dimitrij Zadel as well as Takeshi Kondo, chief regional officer of Europe region at Yusen Logistics, and Japanese Ambassador to Slovenia Masaharu Yoshida.
Japan is one of Luka Koper's priority target markets overseas, particularly in terms of containers and vehicles, said the operator.
Last year, Luka Koper transshipped from or to Japan almost half a million tonnes of goods, including about 40,000 vehicles and 27,000 container units.
The operator pointed out that Japanese companies also owned industrial plants in other Asian countries, which transshipped even larger amounts of goods through the Slovenian port, highlighting that the move would help further tap into the potential of the Japanese market.
Luka Koper also drew attention to last year's merger of three Japanese container shipping lines into a single business - the Ocean Network Express (ONE), which ranks sixth in terms of global ranking by vessel capacity.
ONE is not coming to Koper with its own direct shipping line, but it will operate as part of the Intra Mediterranean service, said Luka Koper, adding that setting up a direct commercial maritime link with Japan would definitely vastly increase transshipment business.
Referring to a milestone trade agreement between the EU and Japan which entered into force in February, Luka Koper said that the deal had opened up new possibilities in trade and service exchanges.
Moreover, in the wake of Brexit, Japan, coming up with an alternative to its plants in the UK, could opt for exporting goods, which would enable Luka Koper to capitalise on its own geo-strategic advantage.
Today's opening is another sign that Japanese companies are increasingly interested in the port of Koper. At the start of August, a delegation from Nagoya, the largest Japanese port in terms of transshipment, visited the port, expressing interest in strengthening the economic cooperation.
All our stories on Japan and Slovenia are here
STA, 23 September 2019 - Pošta Slovenije, the state-owned postal operator, plans to acquire 72% of the logistics company Intereuropa at EUR 1.45 per share. It is to purchase 9,168,425 regular and 10,675,965 priority shares, which totals EUR 28.75 million, Intereuropa says on the web site of the Ljubljana Stock Exchange.
This is in line with the contract that Pošta Slovenije made with a consortium of sellers, comprising SID Banka, NLB, NKBM, Gorenjska Banka, SKB Banka and Banka Intesa Sanpaolo, on 10 May.
The takeover was green-lighted by the Competition Protection Agency at the beginning of the month.
There was much speculation about the value of the deal, with the business daily Finance reporting of a EUR 40 million range, or EUR 100 million together with debt.
But the amount revealed today is closer to the stock market value of the 72% stake, which was estimated at roughly EUR 30 million at the beginning of the month.
Pošta Slovenije is now expected to publish a takeover bid for the outstanding stock in line with competition law. The price per share is also set at EUR 1.45.
Last Friday, a share of Intereuropa was worth EUR 2.54 on the Ljubljana Stock Exchange.
STA, 29 August 2019 - The logistics group Intereuropa generated EUR 80.57 million in sales revenue in the first half of the year, slightly more than in the same period last year, while net profit was up by 14% to EUR 3.07 million, shows the unaudited report published on Thursday.
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were up 3% to EUR 7.07 million, and operating profit increased by 2% to EUR 6.84 million.
While the group increased net profit above all expectations, as it exceeded the plan by 25%, the amount of sales revenue was 5% below the plan.
This is mostly due to some of the planned one-off deals in the air, railway and road transport failing to materialise, the company says in the report, adding that revenues were up year-on-year only in the logistics solutions segment.
In the land transport segment, the group generated 52% of its total sales and generated EUR 42 million in sales revenue, which is 1% less year-on-year and 4% below the plans.
EBITDA were 7% above the plan, which Intereuropa attributes mostly to the received payment of a years-old claim based on a court settlement.
Labour costs in the first half of the year were up by 1% compared to the same period last year, with a growth of average labour costs per employee having the largest impact.
At the end of June, the group employed 1,359 workers, which is 32 more than at the end of last December. This is due to the direct hiring of some workers who had previously worked for the group through temping agencies.
The group's operating profit amounted to EUR 3.8 million, or 2% more than in the first half of 2018, while net financial debt of the group was down by 10% compared to the end of last year to EUR 53.9 million.
The core company Intereuropa, based in Koper, saw its sales revenue increase by 1% to EUR 57.14 million, while net profit surged by 30% to EUR 2.96 million.
The core company's EBITDA and operating profit were meanwhile down by 2% and 4% to EUR 4.95 million and EUR 2.79 million, respectively.
The report notes that EUR 691,000 in turnover with Intereuropa shares had been generated on the Ljubljana Stock Exchange (LJSE) in the first half of the year, which is more than 25% less year-on-year.
In the January-June period, the share lost 2.3% of its value on the LJSE.