German bank to invest into Prvá Komunálna Banka
Prvá Komunálna Banka, a.s., (PKB) Bratislava is expected to be bought by the German based financial group Dexia in late April.
"Slovakia welcomes the capital entry of this financial institution," said Slovak President Rudolf Shuster on April 10 when he received representatives of both banks. "The new capital will enable the bank to provide new, more advantageous and long-term loans for municipalities. Until now, PKB was considerably limited by its resources." According to Shuster, Slovak towns and villages needed more funding for their reorganisation and renewal in the next couple of years.
"We want to participate in the development of Slovakia, the Slovak banking sector and the development of PKB itself," said Gerard Bayol, Dexia Vice-President and a member of the Board of Directors.
Bayol said that the PKB met all criteria for entry of a strategic investor. "Our strategy is to penetrate into Central and Eastern European markets and PKB will enable us to do that," he said.
According to PKB President Jozef Mihálik, the entry of the financial group Dexia and Kommunal Kredit Austria in PKB meant the start of a new era for the bank. "We want to offer municipalities services that are a standard abroad. For example funding for 10 to 30 years at much lower interest rates as are momentarily available on the Slovak banking market," said Mihálik.
Dexia Kommunalkredit Holding, a joint venture between the German financial group Dexia and Kommunal Kredit Austria Holding was established at the beginning of the year. The investor is interested in the acquisition of a controlling stake in the bank, which the bank's shareholders are expected to approve at their annual meeting in late May.
PKB launched its activities in 1993. The bank's shareholders are municipalities, corporate entities, as well as individual investors. The bank operates a subsidiary - Komunálna Poisťovňa, a.s., Banská Bystrica, involved in life and non-life insurance in Slovakia. Simultaneously, the bank holds a stake in Kofis, based in Žilina, offering leasing services. The bank's registered capital was one billion Slovak crowns. Last year PKB reported a net profit of 18.1 million crowns in accord with Slovak accounting standards, while preliminary figures indicated a profit of 280 million crowns. The profit drop was attributed to the creation of added reserves totalling 261 million crowns. Total assets of PKB amounted to 20.176 billion crowns.
Slovak and German publishers close to merger
A year after the German Verlagsgruppe Passau (VP) publishing house entered the Slovak media market by buying the daily Lúč, published by the east Slovak ironworks VSŽ, it is working on a merger with VMV Publishing House.
VMV General Director Alexej Fulmek and Vladimír Junger of the Vltava-Labe Press (a subsidiary of Verlagsgruppe Passau that publishes 40 regional newspapers in the Czech Republic) confirmed this for the daily Hospodarske noviny.
The merger would result in the creation of the strongest publishing group in Slovakia, with a network of central and regional media in Slovakia giving it a daily circulation over 200,000.
VMV is the publisher of several newspapers (Sme daily, Roľnícke Noviny, Domino Forum weekly) along with a network of regional dailies appearing under the Korzár banner. This group includes: the Korzár weekly, Trnava TH Extra Korzár and the local Korzár dailies appearing in Žilina, Banská Bystrica, Košice, Prešov, and Poprad.
The Slovak Spectator, the only English language weekly in Slovakia, is 51% owned by VMV which acquired the stake April 1. The other 49% is held by the original owner of the newspaper, The Rock s.r.o., which consists of four equal American owners.
Verlagsgruppe Passau also obtained a majority stake in the Hungarian-language daily Uj Szo, the most popular daily of the 500,000 strong Hungarian community in Slovakia.
Verlagsgruppe Passau and VMV have not agreed on the details of co-operation yet though, a preliminary agreement on a strategic partnership has already been settled. Verlagsgruppe Passau has experiences with developing networks of regional dailies that attract foreign investors to the regions and revive the advertising market.
Víno Nitra wins silver medal at Italian wine exhibition
Víno Nitra, the third largest wine producer in Slovakia, won the silver medal in the category of dry still wines (contents of sugar up to 4 grams per litre) for its 1998 Muskat Ottonel, at the 34th annual international wine & spirits exhibition Vinitaly in Verona, March 30 - April 3.
Víno Nitra production director Vladimír Zaáeský said that the company wanted to introduce the winning wine on the Slovak market in the next month. He added that the company planned to bottle 10,000 litres of this wine in 2000.
Víno Nitra reported sales of 405 million crowns last year, and according to preliminary results, closed the year with a gross profit of 4.5 million crowns. During the last season the company produced nearly 130,000 hectolitres of wine. Víno Nitra holds approximately 22% of the Slovak wine market. It exports 5% of its output, the biggest portion destined for the Czech Republic. It also exports wine to Sweden, Italy and Japan. Besides wine and the grape soft drink Vinea, it also produces sect and apple wine.
Slovnaft, VÚB shares strengthen on BSE
Slovnaft and VÚB shares on the Bratislava Stock Exchange (BCPB) posted nice gains during the first week of April, an unusually busy week on the exchange. Their gains caused the official share index (SAX) to grow 3.36% (2.69 points) to 82.71 points at the end of trading on April 7.
The price of Slovnaft shares increased 6.4%, changing hands at 766 crowns up from 720 crowns. Five pieces were transferred on the BCPB floor at 725 crowns and 51 pieces at 770 crowns.
In a 500-piece transaction the price of VÚB shares went up 1.5 percent to 335 crowns. Within a public take-over bid 58,291 shares of Liptovská Mliekáreň were transferred at 3,467 crowns per share.
Compiled by Daniel J. Stoll from SITA