Economics and business roundup

January 2 - Economy Minister Jirko Malchárek convenes an emergency meeting to discuss the reduced supply of natural gas from Russia.

January 2 - Economy Minister Jirko Malchárek convenes an emergency meeting to discuss the reduced supply of natural gas from Russia.

January 3 - The reduced supply of natural gas from Russia does not represent an extraordinary situation for Slovakia, the Economy Ministry announces following a meeting with top representatives from natural gas utility Slovenský plynárenský priemysel (SPP). SPP confirms that it is prepared for minor reductions in gas supplies.

January 4 - Opposition party Smer says that if the government sells Bratislava and Košice airports under the current tender conditions, it will halt the sale if it holds a majority in the next parliament.

January 4 - Financial group Penta sells the ZSNP Foundry to Spanish company Fagor Ederlan. The Spanish firm wants to invest €20 million into the foundry over the next two years.

January 9 - Slovak Transport Minister Pavol Prokopovič recommends that the TwoOne consortium be sold the 66-percent stakes in Slovakia's biggest airports, Bratislava and Košice. TwoOne is made up of Vienna Airport, the Slovak private equity group Penta and the Austrian bank Raiffeisen Zentralbank.

January 10 - Swedish company Sapa completes the takeover of aluminium profiles producer Alufinal, company officials announce. Sapa bought the company from Slovak financial group Penta, which acquired Alufinal in 2002.

January 11 - The government approves the privatization of the Central Securities Depository (CDCP). CDCP's assets should be deposited on the Bratislava Stock Exchange (BCPB) as a non-cash investment in its share capital. CDCP's share capital is currently Sk316 million (€8.4 million). Consulting and auditing company KPMG Slovensko assessed the value of its assets at Sk229.7 million (€6.1 million), which is the sum that will be used as a deposit for government privatization agency the National Property Fund (FNM) on the BCPB.

January 11 - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expresses appreciation of Slovakia's reforms and adopted measures, which, according to Slovak Finance Minister Ivan Mikloš "enable the achievement of high and sustainable economic growth". The IMF also positively evaluated better budgetary discipline, thanks to which last year's general government deficit should be a fraction lower than originally planned. The IMF also appealed for the use of non-budgetary revenues to reduce the budget deficit.

January 16 - Austrian Niederösterreichische Hypo-Bank opens a Slovak branch in Bratislava and plans to focus on the financing of public sector investments.

January 17 - The labour office reports a 0.5 percent month-on-month increase in the number of jobless for December to 11.36 percent. Year-on-year, however, the unemployment rate was 1.71 percent down.

January 19 - Tax and customs offices collected Sk228.2 billion (€6.1 billion) in taxes last year, which was Sk20.3 billion (€540 million), or 9.79 percent more than projected. Tax revenues made up Sk222.6 billion (€5.9 billion) of the collected sum and were Sk20.6 billion (€551 million) above the projected figure, the Tax Directorate informed.

January 19 - Transport Minister Pavol Prokopovič announces that another round of the tender for the sale of 66-percent stakes in Bratislava and Košice airports in which the two strongest bidders, the Two One consortium and a consortium led by Spanish firm Abertis, should participate. Each company must submit one final additional offer - extra money that they are willing to pay in addition to their original offers. The highest bidder will win.

January 23 - Miroslav Pikus is appointed the new general director of Slovakia's power producer Slovenské elektrárne. He replaces Miroslav Rapšík, who stepped down after a mutual agreement with Economy Minister Jirko Malchárek.

January 23 - US media company Central European Media Enterprises (CME) completes the acquisition of a controlling interest in Slovak broadcasting company TV Markíza. CME says that the price paid for the acquisition totals $24.4 million (€20.1 million). A deferred part of the purchase price equivalent to $5.1 million (€4.2 million) will mature by May 31, 2006.

January 24 - T-Mobile Slovensko launches the operation of its UMTS network, which enables video calls, TV viewing and video clips, or access to archived programs directly through the Internet.

January 26 - Swedish company Swep and the municipality of Kechnec sign a contract on the purchase of three hectares of land in the local industrial park. The Swedish firm wants to invest €10 million to build a plant producing heat exchangers at the Kechnec industrial park. In the first phase the new plant will employ over 100 people, of which 80 percent will be blue-collar workers.

January 27 - The TwoOne consortium submits a higher additional bid in the tender to privatize 66-percent stakes in Bratislava and Košice airports. The consortium offers an additional Sk4.5 billion (€120 million) for the majority stakes in Slovakia's two biggest airports. Its rival, a consortium of Spanish company Abertis, British airport operator TBI and investment group J&T, offered an additional Sk3.3 billion (€88 million).

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