Business Briefs

Cabinet calls for SPaP decision to be overturned
Kinčeš, Krajňák left off new SPP gas utility board
SLK shipyard signs 500 million crown contract
Hungary's OTP bank puts in bid for IRB
IRB suspends tender for e-banking system
Sale of power monolith further threatened

Cabinet calls for SPaP decision to be overturned

At its regular sitting June 6 Cabinet recommended that the FNM state privatisation agency overturn a recent decision to sell an 87% stake in shipping firm SPaP to little-known company Dunajservis, citing concerns over the transparency of the tender.
An earlier decision had been made by a privatisation commission, and was confirmed by members of the FNM state privatisation agency, after a tender in which other bidders had offered far more money than Dunajservis' 311 million crowns ($6.1 million).
Dunajservis is less than a year old. Its 100% owner, the firm Gammapolis, has head offices in the tiny central Slovak village of Pohronský Ruskov, and according to the business register among other things is licenced as a "retailer for direct consumption of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages" - in other words, as a pub.

Kinčeš, Krajňák left off new SPP gas utility board

Economy Minister Ľubomír Harach June 5 proposed a new board of directors and supervisory board to take over the running of state gas giant SPP when it becomes a joint stock company at the beginning of July. He did not nominate either Pavol Kinčeš, current general manager of the firm, or the head of the supervisory board, Ladislav Krajňák.
The minister proposed Jozef Kojda, president of the government privatisation agency FNM, as chairman of the supervisory board.
The move, which must be approved by the FNM, comes only a week after a scandal surrounding the general director's purchase of an apartment in the centre of Bratislava three years ago for the equivalent of $35.
Minister Harach said that he had chosen not to propose Kinčeš to the board as a solution to the problem over the flat, adding that to have removed him from his post just a month before the creation of the new boards would have been impractical.
SPP's transformation to a joint-stock company comes as the state prepares to sell off 49% of the firm at the end of this year. The government's economic ministers, Deputy PM for the Economy Ivan Mikloš, Finance Minister Brigita Schmögnerová and Economy Minister Harach, have proposed the sale of the entire stake as one package.

SLK shipyard signs 500 million crown contract

SLK Bratislava (SLKB) shipyard June 5 announced that it had signed a contract for the construction of three seagoing cargo NL Rhine-type vessels worth more than 500 million crowns. SLKB will need nine months to construct the vessels and will deliver them to Casus Shipping GmbH Hamburg next year.
The company said that the move would create new employment at the company, its current workforce of 700 expected to rise to 1,000 by the end of the year.
The company, which was created out of the bankrupt SLK firm, is also negotiating on three further contracts for construction of an NL Leda-type seagoing cargo vessel and the completion of two NL Baltik vessels.

Hungary's OTP bank puts in bid for IRB

Hungarian bank OTP said June 5 that it had submitted its bid for the state's 70% share in Investičná a Rozvojová banka (IRB), Slovakia's sixth-largest bank, following a due diligence.
OTP was the only investor interested in IRB. The bank, whose sale was launched last summer, had been put under forced administration in late 1997 and, although since recording improving financial figures, was seen by many analysts as the weakest of the three state banks up for sale.
Slovenská sporiteľňa, Slovakia's largest bank, was sold in December last year to Austria's Erste Bank, and Všeobecná úverová banka, the country's second largest, is expected to be sold to either French Societe Generale or Italian bank IntesaBci.
A seven person commission appointed by Privatisation Minister Mária Machová was to evaluate the bids and give a decision on OTP's offer on June 8.
IRB ended the first quarter of this year 47 million crowns in the red, an improvement of 129.9 million crowns year-on-year. The bank closed last year with a profit of 24 million crowns.

IRB suspends tender for e-banking system

Investičná a Rozvojová banka (IRB) suspended the tender for a supplier of an e-banking system after suspicions of cronyism and corruption associated with the tender were reported in local media and three executives at the bank were recalled.
The supervisory board at the end of last month recalled members of the board of directors Adam Celušák, Pavol Vladovič and Jaroslav Belaš. The latter two are allegedly connected through the ruling coalition SDĽ (Party of the Democratic Left) with the firm Legato Slovakia, which had been approved as the winner of the tender.

Sale of power monolith further threatened

The head of the Economy Ministry's Strategy, Business Support and Legislative Section, Ján Oravec, has said that the next important step in the privatisation of a 49% stake in the state-owned power utility Slovenské elektrárne (SE) - the separation of electricity and heat distribution facilities from production works - has been put off until second half of this year.
Privatisation Minister Maria Machová has already said that she believes the sale of SE will not be completed before the end of the current government's term in September next year.

Compiled by Ed Holt from SITA, TASR and press reports

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