Business Briefs

Topvar reports decreased year-on-year sales
VSŽ shareholder meeting to be held in May
MOL begins buying up Slovnaft shares
Tatravagónka begins deliveries to Luxembourg
Estonian Premier boosts investment hopes
SKB subjected to forced administration

Topvar reports decreased year-on-year sales

The Topvar, a.s., brewery sold 102,800 hectolitres of beer in the first quarter of 2000, a year-on-year drop of 6,500 hectolitres, Jozef Hudec from the brewery's marketing department said April 25.
Output of its cola-like soft drink, Topvar Kofa, increased by nearly 3,000 hectolitres to 8,969 hectolitres over the same period. Hudec said that the company's sales were 29 million crowns higher in the first quarter of this year when compared with the same period of the previous year.
He added that low consumer purchasing power combined with customs barriers on foreign markets hampered the sale of the brewery's products.
Topvar reported record beer sales of 588,000 hectolitres in 1999, up 20,000 hectolitres from 1998. In 2000, the brewery plans to increase sales of beer and Topvar Kofa by 10%.

VSŽ shareholder meeting to be held in May

A regular general meeting of shareholders of the Slovak steel company Východoslovenské Železiarne (VSŽ) will be held in Košice on May 25.
Along with an annual report on the company's performance last year, the agenda of the meeting includes a report of the board of directors on a memorandum of understanding concluded on March 24 between the firm and the American company US Steel.
Shareholders will be briefed on the proposed restructuring of the company, including its timeframe. The general meeting is expected to approve the principle terms of agreement between VSŽ and US Steel under the memorandum of understanding.
Some shareholders in VSŽ have questioned the terms of the memorandum, saying that the price US Steel would pay to buy VSŽ, reportedly $60 million, was too low.
Also on the meeting's agenda will be the approval of a merger of three subsidiary companies: VSŽ Finančné a účtovnicke služby s.r.o., VSŽ Infoconsult, s.r.o., Košice and VSŽ - Press, s.r.o. Košice with the parent company and related changes in the company's statutes.

MOL begins buying up Slovnaft shares

Following the closure of its deal on strategic investment with Slovak oil refinery Slovnaft Hungarian oil company MOL has begun to buy up shares in the company.
According to information from the Central Securities Registrar, MOL already holds 7.61% of Slovnaft's first issue and its share in the company's registered capital is almost 6.1%.
In April, 1,002,266 Slovnaft shares (6.09% of its registered capital) changed hands in an off-market direct transaction on the Bratislava Stock Exchange (BCPB) at 1,402 crowns per share. Slovnaft issued a total of 16,468,953 shares in two issues.
Under the deal between the two companies MOL will acquire a 36.2% stake in Slovnaft for $262 million. The share will be taken through a combination of a $150 million increase in Slovnaft's registered capital and the purchase of $112 million worth of shares, due to be fully acquired by the end of the third quarter of this year.
Slovnaft closed last year with a net loss of 2.484 billion crowns. The refinery recorded a profit of 76 million crowns in 1998 and 1.8 billion crowns in 1997.

Tatravagónka begins deliveries to Luxembourg

Tatravagónka a.s. Poprad, a freight car manufacturer, has begun the delivery of carriages to the Luxembourg national railway firm CFL.
Tatravagónka has delivered the first series of Shimmns cargo carriages to the rail firm and has obtained an order from CFL for the manufacture of 100 carriages of Rbnpss, Rnssz and Rilns types.
Tatravagónka management said that the German firm Deutsche Bahn Cargo had also placed an order for development of a new type of Lekks carriage. The contracts amount to a total output of more than 4.8 billion crowns.
In 1999, Tatravagónka reported a profit of 24 million crowns on an output of 3.9 billion crowns.

Estonian Premier boosts investment hopes

During a two-day visit at the invitation of Premier Mikuláš Dzurinda on April 19 and 20, Estonian Prime Minister Mart Laar said Estonian businessmen could be interested in investing in Slovakia.
Laar said that the Estonian business community would have to first familiarise itself with the Slovak tax and legal system before making any investment decisions.
He added that Estonia already had extensive investments in the Ukraine and that the geographical proximity of Slovakia and its eastern neighbour could play to its advantage in attracting Estonian investment.

SKB subjected to forced administration

The National Bank of Slovakia (NBS) said on April 19 that it would look into claims of mismanagement at Slovenská Kreditná Banka, a.s., Bratislava (SKB), after putting the bank under forced administration.
NBS governor Marián Jusko said that it was still unclear under what criteria SKB had stopped payments to some clients and settled other payments. He said that the central bank's administration would look into whether or not SKB had violated rules of loan engagement when it provided loans to companies associated with its shareholders.
In the last three two-week periods during which minimum reserve requirements are monitored by the central bank, liquidity indicators at SKB had become worse
The NBS has not yet withdrawn SKB's banking licence and said that the bank is not beyond rescue.
"SKB is not in such bad shape that the situation can not be resolved. However, a strategic decision will have to be adopted very quickly," Jusko said. He added that SKB needs to increase its registered capital to cover some of its losses but an immediate strengthening of the bank's liquidity is the top priority for the bank.

Compiled by Ed Holt
from SITA and TASR

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