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Busines Briefs

Whirlpool brings forward plant expansion plans
NBS begins quoting 12-month reference rates
Slovak Telecom privatisation may mean job cuts
Slovak Rail has 476 million crown profit for Jan-April
Tatra banka shareholders agree on bonds
ST to dump Poštová banka stake soon

Whirlpool brings forward plant expansion plans

Washing machine manufacturer Whirlpool Slovakia has brought forward plans for expansion at its Poprad plant.
"Our goal is to approach suppliers to the Poprad plant in 2000 and 2001 and thus improve competitiveness, flexibility and cut costs," director of the Poprad plant Enrico Biondi said June 5.
Production of aluminum and rubber components for washing machines in the new premises should be launched in 2001.
The company plans to invest 1.2 billion crowns in its production plant this year, creating 300 new jobs. Whirlpool currently employs 666 people.
Original plans had slated the construction of two new production halls at the existing Poprad plant.


NBS begins quoting 12-month reference rates

On June 5, the National Bank of Slovakia (NBS) set a reference interest rate on twelve-month deposits at 8.86% per annum, the first time that it has announced a reference rate for twelve-month deposits on the Slovak money market.
Peter Andresič, head of the NBS Open Market Operations Department, said that the introduction of a twelve-month reference rate is related to positive developments in the economy and should increase confidence in trading with longer-term deposits.


Slovak Telecom privatisation may mean job cuts

Employees are braced for job cuts at the fixed line monopoly Slovenské telekomunikácie (ST) after it was revealed that under the planned privatisation of the firm plans are on the board for staff reductions.
ST has long been seen as over-staffed, and it was widely expected that any strategic investor into the company would cut back on the number of employees at the firm.
The telecom firm currently employs 13,624 people. Representatives of one of the two bidders (KPN and Deutsche Telekom), speaking on condition of anonymity, said that five or six years after entry into Slovak Telecom, the firm would employ only 11,500 workers.


Slovak Rail has 476 million crown profit for Jan-April

In the first four months of 2000, Slovak Rail (ŽSR) reported a profit of 476.4 million crowns - an rise of 1.3 billion crowns on the same period of last year.
ŽSR spokesman Miloš Čikovský said June 1 that expenditures went up 1.385 billion crowns, while revenues increased 2.683 billion crowns. He added that the company's performance was significantly affected by a dissolution of exchange-rate reserves from 1999 in the amount of 1.805 billion crowns.
The government's subsidy for public passenger transport was one billion crowns higher than in the same period last year.


Tatra banka shareholders agree on bonds

Shareholders of Tatra banka on May 31 approved an issue of mortgage-backed bonds worth up to two billion crowns with a maturity of up to 20 years, as well as changes to the bank's statutes.
The bank paid off dividends of 303.853 million crowns in total out of its net earnings of 1.549 billion crowns for 1999 and plans to use the remaining sum of 122.904 million crowns as retained earnings for other purposes.


ST to dump Poštová banka stake soon

Slovak Telecom will transfer its shares in Poštová banka from its portfolio to the Ministry of Transport, Postal Services and Telecommunications or the National Property Fund (FNM-national privatisation agency) in two or three weeks, Minister of Transport, Postal Services and Telecommunications Jozef Macejko said June 2.
However, Slovak Telecom will first increase its stake in the bank.
Following the transfer, an adviser for the sale of the bank to a strategic investor will be chosen and Slovenská Pošta (Slovak Post) will retain its interest in the bank.
Macejko said: "Slovak Telecom has at least the moral right to take part in the rescue of Poštová banka via a capital increase because it got into a minority position in this bank under the previous management of the bank and Slovak Telecom."
He said of the move by ST, "despite the fact that this is not a very advantageous investment, we should not forget the more than 500,000 accounts that this bank holds. It would be dangerous to get this bank into a situation where these deposits would be endangered."
Deposits in the bank amounted to approximately 15 billion crowns at the end of 1999.
The telecoms firm is still to decide on a new general director after Emil Hubinák resigned from the post over ST's involvement in Poštová banka.


Compiled by Ed Holt from SITA and TASR

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