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Business Briefs

IMF issues warning over fiscal discipline
VÚB has Q1 profit of 261 million crowns
Nafta profit at 163.17 million crowns for Q1
Balance of payments drops 4 billion crowns
Number of people on social benefits up to 310,700 in Q1
Ministry says new ST shareholder would hinder sale
European firms express interest in SPP utility

IMF issues warning over fiscal discipline

At a meeting as part of a two-week visit to Slovakia, International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials warned of the dangers of the government not keeping on track with its planned reduction of the state deficit.
IMF mission chief Robert Feldman said that measures had to be taken to relieve tension in public financing with a view to keeping within the government's stated limit for the deficit - 3% of GDP. Both the IMF and Deputy Premier for the Economy Ivan Mikloš have agreed that expenditures should be lowered.


VÚB has Q1 profit of 261 million crowns

Všeobecná úverová banka (VÚB), the second largest bank in Slovakia, released figures May 9 showing that it had a profit of 355 million crowns for the first four months of 2000, with a profit of 261 million crowns for the first quarter of the year.
A spokesman for the bank said that the figures came on the back of ongoing restructuring at the bank which began last December.
The bank's total assets rose 10 billion crowns year-on-year to 162 billion crowns over the first three months of this year. According to Slovak accounting standards, VÚB had non-consolidated losses of 9.49 billion crowns for 1999.


Nafta profit at 163.17 million crowns for Q1

Over the first three months of this year, gas storage company Nafta Gbely recorded a profit of 163.17 million crowns with operating profit at 237.5 million crowns. The loss from financial operations stood at more than 74.3 million crowns.
According to the unconsolidated and non-audited results, over 1999 Nafta Gbely posted a loss of 2.03 billion crowns with the operating profit for the year at 360.9 million crowns and sales at 3.12 billion crowns.


Balance of payments drops 4 billion crowns

The National Bank of Slovakia reported May 5 that the balance of payments ended with a deficit of 1.5 billion crowns in February 2000. In the same period of 1999, the deficit stood at 5.5 billion crowns. In January, the balance of payments deficit was 600 million crowns.
The figures showed that exports grew in the first two months of the year by 35.2% year-on-year to 74.9 billion crowns, fuelled largely by increased exports of motor vehicles. Exports of machinery and appliances continued to grow, with exports of industrial electrical appliances and machines recording the highest rise.
Imports, rising 29.2% in January and February compared with the same period of 1999, amounted to 80.6 billion crowns and continued to be influenced negatively by the rise in prices of crude oil and natural gas.


Number of people on social benefits up to 310,700 in Q1

In the first quarter of 2000, 310,700 people received social benefits, up 14,100 compared with the end of 1999 with the state paying out social benefits of 2.6 billion crowns during the first three months of the year, Labour Minister Peter Magvaši said during a session of the Social Partnership Council on May 4.
The average nominal wage stood at 10,728 crowns in 1999, up 7.2% year-on-year. Real wages decreased in 1999 for the first time in six years, by 2.9 percentage points.


Ministry says new ST shareholder would hinder sale

Deputy Transport and Telecom Minister Dušan Faktor said May 5 that bringing another shareholder into Slovak Telecom now would complicate the process of preparing basic materials for the sale of the majority stake in the company, because the issue would also have to be discussed with the new shareholder.
Faktor added that because of this the ministry has objected to the sale of a 15% stake in Slovak Telecom owned by the National Property Fund (FNM) privatisation agency before the tender for the sale of a majority stake in the telecoms firm to a strategic investor.
The deputy minister said that the decision was in line with the recommendations provided by the sale's advisor - Deutsche Bank.


European firms express interest in SPP utility

Following a meeting with Economy Minister Ľubomír Harach May 4, representatives of significant European gas companies - Snam (Italy), Gaz de France and Ruhrgas (Germany) - said that they may apply for a joint entry into the state-controlled gas utility Slovenský Plynárenský Priemyseľ (SPP).
Harach added that both Russia's Gazprom and American and Canadian companies had expressed an interest in SPP.
"Gazprom has not submitted its official bid, but its interest in participating in SPP's privatization is apparent," Harach said. He added that besides the financial bids, output opportunities would also play a large part in any decisions on the entry of a company into SPP.
The company has been slated for privatisation as early as the end of this year.


Compiled by Ed Holt
from SITA

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