Bank divisions merge. The Slovak and Czech arms of the Italian UniCredit bank merged into a single unit headquartered in Prague. The Slovak bank transformed into a branch of the foreign bank UniCredit Bank Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Danube Wings ceased operations. The Slovak airline, which was launched in 2008 and whose business was connected with Vladimír Poór, closed down its last scheduled route, between Bratislava and Košice, arguing that it was unable to find customers prepared to pay actual costs and has run only charter flights over recent months.
After a two-year break the Czech Airlines (ČSA) renewed the scheduled route Prague-Bratislava. ČSA also added a new route where the planes will continue from Bratislava to Košice. ČSA offers two return flights Prague - Bratislava – Košice every Monday, Wednesday and Friday while it plans to extend them to 10 per week as of March.
Project to supply gas to Ukraine a possibility. The plan to supply natural gas from Slovakia to Ukraine remains alive. According to a spokesman for the Eustream Slovak gas transmission system operator, all involved parties agreed upon the definitive wording of the memorandum on the plan. In mid-December it was still not known whether and when the document would be signed.
Two Slovak companies make it to Technology Fast 500 EMEA. Companies WebSupport and Eset made it to Technology Fast 500 in the EMEA region, an annual ranking of the fastest growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences and clean technology companies compiled by Deloitte. WebSupport finished 138th and Eset 466th.
Kellner leaves EPH. The ownership of the Czech company EPH, which controls the transit of natural gas through Slovakia and its distribution into households via Eustream and SPP, will change. While J&T finance group and Daniel Křetínský will stay on as owners, billionaire Petr Kellner, the richest man in the Czech Republic, plans to sell his shares.
Corporate tax policy shifts. The Finance Ministry, in an attempt to boost tax revenue, proposes annual tax licenses to be paid even by loss-making companies. It defended its measure by pointing out that approximately 60 percent of companies operating in Slovakia do not pay any license taxes. The rate of an individual tax license will depend on the turnover of a given company and whether or not it pays VAT. Companies which do not pay VAT and see a turnover of up to €500,000 will pay €480, whereas those paying VAT with the same turnover category are to pay €960 and firms with turnovers exceeding €500,000 will pay €2,880. Along with the introduction of the tax licenses, the corporate tax of 23 percent decreased to 22 percent.
Parliament clears 2014 budget. Parliament approved the state budget for 2014, with revenues projected at €14.108 billion, expenditures of €17.392 billion and a deficit of €3.283 billion or 2.64 percent of GDP. The state budget plan is based on economic growth of 2.2 percent, an unemployment rate of 14.3 percent and an inflation rate of 1.7 percent. Tax licenses are a part of the plan.
Fourth telecom operator coming. The auction of 4G network frequencies fetched €210 million. In total, four operators obtained frequencies: the existing telecom operators Slovak Telekom, Orange Slovensko and Telefónica Slovakia providing its services under the brand name O2 as well as a new operator on the Slovak market. However, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority will only reveal the newcomer’s name in January, after the licenses for successful operators become valid.
Bratislava-Schwechat pipeline issue unresolved. The issue of routing and construction of the Bratislava-Schwechat pipeline interconnecting the Druzhba pipeline with Austrian pipeline remains open. The Slovak Economy Ministry postponed the planned discussion on the issue for one year,
arguing that it does not have enough information and that it needs more time to prepare documents. The project was conceived by BSP Bratislava-Schwechat Pipeline, a company launched in 2003 as a joint venture to build and operate the new pipeline. The Slovak company Transpetrol, involved in the transportation and storage of crude oil, holds a 74 percent share in the company, while Austrian OMV holds 26 percent. The length of the pipeline could range between 80 and 150 kilometres depending on the route, and the Slovak ministry has estimated the cost at €70 to €140 million. The project has raised concerns of Bratislava citizens and environment protectionists who are concerned about what impact the pipeline and a potential accident might have on the city and its water reserves.
THE YEAR IN BUSINESSJanuary