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Business Briefs

Six bidders confirm SP advisor interest
Parliament agrees with Transpetrol judge prosecution
Power distributor SSE likely to limit ŽSR supplies
SDĽ attacks government policy on ST local loops

Six bidders confirm SP advisor interest

Six firms have submitted binding bids in a tender to become the privatisation adviser in the sale of Slovakia's largest universal insurance company, Slovenská poisťovna (SP). Seven entities had originally shown preliminary interest. The steering committee for the tender will decide on its next move at a March 12 session. The tender was announced December 20.
SP's privatisation should coincide with the lifting of its monopoly on obligatory liability insurance for motor vehicles. The state will offer a 78.54% stake of the stocks held by the Finance Ministry (57.14%) and the government privatisation agency FNM (21.24%).

Parliament agrees with Transpetrol judge prosecution

Parliament March 2 agreed with a request for a police investigator to allow the District Court judge in Vranov nad Topľou Ružena Vašková to criminal prosecution. She is charged with misuse of power.
Vašková is suspected of making rulings which facilitated an unlawful transfer of shares of crude oil pipeline operator Transpetrol in 1998, resulting in damages of more than two billion crowns to the company.
A 34% stake in Transpetrol was transferred from the account of the Ministry of Economy, which was the formal founder and only legal shareholder of the company, to a third party. Transpetrol was unaware of the transfer. The investigator has accused seven other suspects as well as Vašková in the case.

Power distributor SSE likely to limit ŽSR supplies

Regional power distributor Stredoslovenské energetické závody (SSE) has said it would announce in advance any plans to discontinue supplying power to Slovak Rail (ŽSR) and that it plans to stop supplying part of the company's traction current, limiting the firm's operations, Miloš Čikovský, ŽSR spokesman, said March 5. About 40 of ŽSR's service units have been left without power after Zapadoslovenské energetické závody (ZSE), another regional power distributor, switched off electricity on March 1.
Power producer Slovenské elektrárne said it would restore electricity supplies only after the railway settles at least half of a 506.4 million crown ($10 million) debt and agrees to a calendar for installment payments. ŽSR owes 1.6 billion crowns to regional power distribution companies.

SDĽ attacks government policy on ST local loops

The ruling coalition Democratic Left Party (SDĽ) has criticised the Ministry of Transport, Post and Telecommunications for its unwillingness to include in the guidelines to the Telecommunications Law a stipulation that Slovak Telecom (ST) lease unbundled local telephone loops , i.e. leasing local loops without additional services to other operators on the market, after the telecom market is liberalised.
SDĽ vice-chairman Branislav Ondruš said March 6 that even though the Anti-Monopoly Office (PMÚ) has confirmed that Slovak Telecom abused its monopoly status by refusing to lease unbundled local loops, the ministry has no plans to specifically oblige the firm to do so.
"If the ministry does not accept and respect the decision of the Antitrust Bureau, we will initiate, via SDĽ deputies, a revision to the telecommunications law to put it in line with European Union regulations," Ondruš said. European legislation stipulates the unbundling of local loops.
In a decision February 22, the PMÚ confirmed its previous decision that ST abused its monopoly market position. Last October, the PMÚ fined Slovak Telecom 10 million crowns for the abuse, but the company appealed the ruling.

Compiled by Ed Holt
from SITA and TASR

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