Business Briefs

Matador profit up after company reorganisation
ŽSR looking to attract foreign investors
ST profit up as it heads for privatisation
SPP launches appeal over Ducký exchange bills
Slovak ministers head for Washington negotiations
Slovakia to spend 137 million crowns on Expo 2000

Matador profit up after company reorganisation

Matador Group said on April 17 that its pre-tax profit had risen more than 200 million crowns to 240 million crowns after a turnover of 11.85 billion crowns [$276 million] last year.
A company spokesman said that the boost to the firm's financial figures had come after an extensive reorganisation of controlling structures within the company in July last year.
The moves also saw corporate liabilities fall by almost one billion crowns year-on-year in 1999.

ŽSR looking to attract foreign investors

Ladislav Saxa, the Deputy ŽSR general director for technical development, said on April 17 that several companies had shown an interest in investing into Slovak Railways (ŽSR). The company is preparing workshops during which ŽSR representatives would meet with representatives of German companies from Westphalia
Saxa said that German firms are interested in infrastructure investments that could go into telecom, train carriages and tracks. However, ŽSR chiefs are keeping quiet over which companies may be interested.

ST profit up as it heads for privatisation

Slovenské Telekomunikácie [Slovak Telecom - ST] reported a gross profit of 2.32 billion crowns for 1999, up almost 260 million crowns from the previous year. Sales accounted for 23.6 billion crowns, and expenditures stood at 21.3 billion crowns. The company also invested 4.8 billion crowns in its telecommunications network, said ST's spokeswoman Gabriela Nemkyová.
From April 1, 1999, when it was transformed into a joint-stock company, until the end of the last year, ST recorded a gross profit of 2.725 billion crowns while its operating profit stood at 3.098 billion crowns.
ST is entering the second round of a tender for the sale of a 51% stake to a foreign investor. The three finalists for the stake are Telekom Austria, Deutsche Telekom and Dutch KPM. The sale of the stake should be completed by the second quarter of this year.

SPP launches appeal over Ducký exchange bills

State-controlled gas company Slovenský plynárenský priemysel (SPP) appealed against a Bratislava regional court ruling on April 17 under which it would have to pay 350 million Czech crowns plus 6% interest to Czech bank Union Banka as its obligations from bills of exchange signed by the former director general of SPP Ján Ducký, murdered in January 1999.
The regional court confirmed SPP's obligation towards Union Banka and recommended that SPP claims losses incurred in a case involving the Czech Sezooz Group.
At stake were five bills of exchange, totalling 350 million Czech crowns, signed by Ducký in 1998. SPP signed the exchange bills for the Sezooz Group as a part of a contract on a loan for SPP. The bills were for a fictitious exchange of technological equipment in late September 1998. SPP settled its exchange bills to Sezooz Group, but the Czech firm was no longer holder of the bills at that time and Union Banka, which currently holds them, claimed their settlement.
SPP separately reported that it had pre-tax earnings of 12.4 billion crowns for the period from January 1 to December 31, 1999, an increase of 3.8 billion crowns over the previous year.
In addition to corporate income tax of 6.2 billion crowns, SPP also made a special transfer to the state budget of 2.1 billion crowns. This left the company a net profit of 4.1 billion crowns, up 2.1 billion crowns year-on-year.

Slovak ministers head for Washington negotiations

Finance Minister Brigita Schmögnerová, Deputy Prime Minister for the Economy Ivan Mikloš and National Bank of Slovakia governor Marian Jusko left on April 14 for a four-day visit to Washington to take part in the spring session of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
The Slovak representatives will be in negotiations with the World Bank over its $400 million EFSAL loan to Slovakia.
The Finance Minister said in March that she was reluctant to take the loan if it was conditioned with a stand-by agreement that it accept IMF expert help with bank and business restructuring. However, the World Bank in early April offered six alternatives to Slovakia for accepting the loan without any stand-by conditions.
A decision on acceptance of the loan is expected to be made following the negotiations.

Slovakia to spend 137 million crowns on Expo 2000

Slovakia will spend approximately 137 million crowns in the Expo 2000 exposition in Hannover between June and October this year.
Government Commissioner for Expo 2000 for the Slovak Republic Ján Pis said on April 14 that 65 million crowns has been allocated for the show from the state budget with a further 50 million crowns coming from the Foreign Trade Promotion Fund. The 22 million crown shortfall is expected to come from the state budget.
Slovak companies such as Kabát, s.r.o., a meat processing company, Liptovská Mliekareň, a.s., a dairy, and brewer Topvar, a.s will be trying to promote the Slovak agricultural sector at the event. Organisers expect about 40 million visitors from around the world for the entire event.

Compiled by Ed Holt from SITA and TASR

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