THE OPPOSITION party Sieť is planning to submit a bill on the protection of national security in the area of foreign investments, whereby the Slovak government would have the right to know the true identity of an owner of a company of strategic importance, the TASR newswire reported on July 14.

Under the bill, the cabinet would also be entitled to know of planned changes in ownership and would have the right to block such changes if the companies concerned refused to provide the information. At the same time, the government would be required to assess the security risks in such a scenario and would have the right to ban such an ownership change should the risks be significant.

The proposal was inspired by the current situation of electricity utility Slovenské Elektrárne (SE). Speculation emerged recently that Italian energy company Enel might sell its 66-percent stake in SE to Russian state energy company Rosatom. Under current laws, Slovakia does not have the right to intervene when it comes to the transfer of ownership between two foreign companies, even if it constitutes a significant national security risk. As far as SE goes, Slovakia’s only influence lies in making use of its pre-emptive right, and that is merely thanks to a shareholders’ agreement, said Sieť member and independent MP Miroslav Beblavý.

“Currently, we have no legal right to know who the true owner of strategic companies is,” Beblavý told the media, as quoted by TASR, and said that a major Slovak company could be owned by a post-box-based company from Cyprus, but the state would not even necessarily know who is behind such a firm.

Security risks are posed by companies owned by a non-EU-member country, a state that is not a signatory to Slovakia’s international commitments and entities that seek excessive control over energy, defence or natural resources, Beblavý maintains.

The party is planning to submit the bill for the parliamentary session in September.

Source: TASR

Compiled by Michaela Terenzani from press reports.
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information
presented in its Flash News postings.