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Business Briefs

Bidding starts for non-performing Konsolidačna loans
ZŤS TEES Martinské Strojárne announces lay-offs
SAD bus firms report large loss, interest in sale
Miroslav Knitl elected new SP chairman
Construction of new Danube bridge to start in July
Wili Group declares interest in Slovak Airlines stake

Bidding starts for non-performing Konsolidačna loans

State hospital agency Slovenská Konsolidačna (SK), which last year took over non-performing loans from Slovenská sporiteľňa, Všeobecná úverová banka and Investičná a rozvojová banka prior to their privatisations, has begun receiving bids for these claims. Within the first package it has offered 14 loans in total through a public tender. Of this number, eight are claims towards Slovak debtors, four towards Czech debtors and two towards Russian companies. After the tender was published, one Slovak debtor settled its debt. The agency reported interest from 19 entities in the remaining 13 claims while several of them showed interest in more than one claim.
The agency will publish the names of the winners for every claim by April 17.

ZŤS TEES Martinské Strojárne announces lay-offs

Management of engineering company ZŤS TEES Martinské strojárne January 8 announced plans to lay off 930 of its 1400 workers.
The lay-off comes after ZŤS TEES's production of tractors dropped dramatically. A failed contract to produce tractors for the Yugoslav market prompted a crisis at the firm, while insolvency of potential business partners in Russia and Ukraine, and delayed subsidies for Slovak farmers to purchase tractors, exacerbated the situation.
ZŤS TEES Martinské strojárne shareholders decided to save two operational programmes, the production of tractors and heavy engines, and to establish a new company that would take over these projects. The new company will retain only 450 employees.

SAD bus firms report large loss, interest in sale

Seventeen state-run companies of SAD (public bus company) reported an aggregate loss of 146.32 million crowns from subsidised suburban and city public transport for the first eleven months of last year. The companies received a subsidy of 967.1 million crowns ($21 million) last year, the Transport Ministry's Jaroslav Hnatic said.
At the end of last year, the Transport Ministry submitted basic privatisation projects for 17 SAD state-run firms to the Privatisation Ministry. In the first stage of the process 49% stakes will be privatised through direct sale after transformation to joint-stockcompanies.
More than 100 potential investors from various countries have expressed an interest in the companies.

Miroslav Knitl elected new SP chairman

The board of directors of Sociálná Poisťovňa (SP) elected Miroslav Knitl its new chairman in a secret ballot January 8. Of the 20 board members who voted Knitl received support from eleven in the second round as opposed to eight for present chairman Igor Lipták. One member did not vote.
Knitl said that he wants to follow the path of the current director in the operation of the social insurance company and that he will strive to speed up reform of social insurance.
The six-year term of the present SP chairman will end in February 2001.

Construction of new Danube bridge to start in July

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is expected to approve a 1.5 billion crown ($32 million) loan for the construction of the fifth Bratislava bridge over the Danube River at a session in January. Subsequently, the loan contract should be signed, Vladimír Kovalčík, general director of state firm Metro, selected to manage the tender for the contract for the bridge's construction, said January 5.
Kovalčík said the largest Slovak construction companies, Doprastav Bratislava, Hydrostav Bratislava, and Inžinierské stavby Košice, were expected to join the tender for the contract.
However, the tender will have to be open for contractors from the whole European Union because the project will be financed from EU sources, Kovalčík added.
Total expenses of the project, which is expected to conclude in 2005, are calculated at 3.3 billion crowns.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) approved a loan of 1.8 billion crowns for the bridge's construction in December last year while Slovak bank Prvá komunálná banka will grant a loan of 1 billion crowns and the government will provide a state guarantee for the loans.

Wili Group declares interest in Slovak Airlines stake

The company Wili Group declared its interest in using its preemptive right to a 34% government stake in Slovak Airlines (SA), vice-chairman of the SA board of directors and head of the Transport Ministry's Office Peter Klučka said January 5.
Klučka added that the stake had been offered for 75 million crowns and that if Wili Group did not accept that price a new one would be negotiated with the Transport Ministry.
The situation may also change of the Russian corporation Jak, holding a 0.02% share in SA declares an interest in using the same pre-emptive option. If the sale to any of the shareholders fails, the ministry will announce a new tender.
The Russian shareholder has one more week to declare an interest in the SA stake.

Compiled by Ed Holt from SITA

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