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Business Briefs

ŽSR wants state guarantee for 10.5 billion crown loan
World Bank to give loan for public finance reform
Sony to triple production over two years
Potential FWA operators say price tag is too high
Cable operator UPC to be fined for high pricing

ŽSR wants state guarantee for 10.5 billion crown loan

Slovak Rail (ŽSR) said February 28 that it expects the government to guarantee new loans totalling 10.5 billion crowns in 2001 ($228 million). ŽSR will draw loans from the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Bank for the Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the World Bank (WB), ŽSR Deputy Director Ladislav Saxa said.
Slovak Rail will use the money to restructure its debt, to finance investment projects, for the reconstruction of railway tracks, purchase of railway cars, project design and preparation of railway constructions projects.
As of December 31, 2000, ŽSR's debts stood at 41.3 billion crowns, 22 billion crowns of which were bank loans. Government-guaranteed foreign loans represent the biggest portion of loans; two totalling $136.2 million and three comprising 445 million euros.

World Bank to give loan for public finance reform

The World Bank will provide Slovakia a loan to fund public finance reform, senior economist of the World Bank Jean-Jacques Dethier, said February 27 after talks with the Finance Ministry. The loan will be part of the Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) for Slovakia and will not exceed $10 million.
Dethier praised the government's efforts to date on public finance reform, but emphasised the need for a functional institutional framework to ensure macroeconomic stability is maintained.

Sony to triple production over two years

Sony Slovakia said February 27, while Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda paid an official visit to the company, that last year its output reached 3.5 billion crowns ($76 million) and that it had plans to double its production this year and triple it in 2003.
The prime minister praised the Japanese firm for its role in providing jobs and career experience for many Slovaks. "Many young people have gained valuable experience not only with technology and production, but also in management," he said.
Sony also said that it plans to invest a further one billion crowns in its operations in Trnava, 50 kilometers outside the capital Bratislava.

Potential FWA operators say price tag is too high

The suggested 70 million crown ($1.52 million) price tag for a licence to operate a fixed wireless access (FWA) network is too high, according to company analyses, potential bidders have said.
The Telecoms Office (TÚ) has said that a tender will start on March 1, at which time the terms of the tender will also be announced.
The deadline for submitting bids is April 3. It will be held in the form of a 'beauty contest', where the price bid is only one part of the tender equation.
Interested companies, including GTS Slovakia, Callino, GiTy and Metis (Slovakia), said that they consider the price was overestimated given the economic potential of the Slovak market.

Cable operator UPC to be fined for high pricing

The Telecom Office (TÚ), the Slovak telecoms sector regulatory body, confirmed an earlier ruling February 23 that cable television operator UPC has violated price regulations, and has said it cannot raise prices beyond 12% this year.

Compiled by Ed Holt
from SITA and TASR

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