Business Briefs

Fitch may raise ratings for Slovakia in next year
Settlement of SPP 'bills' may cost 2-3 billion crowns
Slovak Telecom against exclusion from FWA tender

Fitch may raise ratings for Slovakia in next year

International rating agency Fitch said February 20 that it may raise Slovakia's BB-plus long-term foreign and BBB-plus local currency ratings on the back of improving economic performance.
The agency said that the rise and the continuing positive state of the economy "could see Slovakia regain investment-grade status over the next
12 months."
Fitch pointed out though that any move up to investment grade would be dependent on the government's privatisation programme for the next year and development of a medium-term strategy for reducing the fiscal deficit.

Settlement of SPP 'bills' may cost 2-3 billion crowns

The alleged holders of blank bills of exchange from the state-run gas distributor SPP, signed by murdered SPP Director Ján Ducký, have offered SPP's current management an out-of-court settlement, demanding payment of two to three billion crowns ($43 million), SPP lawyer Ernest Valko said February 20.
The SPP supervisory board tasked the management to negotiate an out-of-court settlement of the bills of exchange a year ago, but SPP Director Pavol Kinčeš has said he does not want to be seen to be legalising the fraudulent signing of the bills.
Police investigators have started criminal prosecution in the case of fictive contracts between SPP and the Czech Sezooz Group that were signed before parliamnetary elections in 1998. In one of these fictive loan contracts, Ducký, a former Economy Minister, signed five bills of exchange for Sezooz totalling 350 million crowns. Based upon these, a Sezooz Group representative transferred the bills of exchange to
Czech Union Banka for 324 million crowns.
SPP's current management has said that it does not recoginse the bills. "We have been saying for a long time that we do not recognise them, and we have no records of them in our books. We have already initiated criminal prosecution in this matter," said Kinčeš.

Slovak Telecom against exclusion from FWA tender

Fixed-line monopoly Slovenské telekomunikácie (ST) said February 19 that it is against the terms of the prepared tender for FWA (Fixed Wireless Access) operator licences which forbids current telecom operators on the Slovak market to enter the bidding.
The tender, which the Telecoms Office has said will be announced soon, rules out the participation of ST and mobile operators Globtel and Eurotel, in an effort to open up more competition in the sector.
ST President Ladislav Mikuš addressed a letter to Deputy Telecom Minister Dušan Faktor asking that ST be allowed to apply for the licence.
"As one of the biggest investors in Slovakia, ST must get conditions equal to those enjoyed by other players on the market, especially with regards to capital invested into similar technologies and ST's contribution to building up a modern infrastructure for development of the Slovak economy," Mikuš said.
ST maintains that its exclusion from the tender would be at odds with state legislation on telecoms firms' activities, and that in such a situation ST would have to use all possible legal means to achieve redress.
The Telecoms Ministry will sell three nationwide FWA licences with a 20-year validity for 70 million crowns each. The tender will be held in the form of a so-called beauty contest. In this form of sale many criteria, not just the price bid but also the development plans of potential holders of the licences, will determine to whom the licences are granted.

Compiled by Ed Holt
from SITA and TASR

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