Tire maker Matador to supply 400,000 tires for Škoda
Test drives in Škoda cars with snow tires made by Slovak tire maker Matador Púchov took place in the Austrian region Teesdorf in January. Slovak professional race car driver Jirko Malchárek, who conducted the tests, said the test drive had confirmed that the quality of Matador's tires matched that of tires from famous world companies.
Matador Chairman Štefan Rosina said that the tire maker would supply 400,000 tires for passenger cars and small commercial vehicles to the carmaker Škoda Auto in Mladá Boleslav, Czech Republic, in 2000. The tires will be used specifically for the Felicia and Octavia cars, as well as for the new Fabia model. Matador plans to produce 4.5 million tires for passenger and small commercial cars in 2000 in total, a further 600,000 pieces compared to 1999.
Car sales in Slovakia down 22% in 1999
In 1999, approximately 62,000 new cars were sold in Slovakia, down more than 22%, according to preliminary data from the Slovak Automotive Association. Of this total, 5,500 units were commercial vehicles.
The drop represented 14,000 cars compared to 1998, translating into a loss of 1.1 billion Slovak crowns ($25.5 million) in state budget revenues due to missing customs duties and VAT. State budget revenues associated with domestic car sales were put at approximately 3.5 billion crowns ($81.3 million) in 1999, compared to 4.6 billion crowns ($106.9 million) in 1998.
The Slovak car market in 1999 also reported a large difference regarding sales through the first five months. In 1999, the highest monthly sales were recorded in June with 8,867 units - 4,809 units more than the lowest sales in January.
The association expected 2000 car sales to be similar to those in 1999. A possible negative influence might come from imposed depreciation limits, the import surcharge, a further increase in fuel prices, or a potential weakening of the Slovak currency. These expectations were borne out by January 2000 results, when only 3,587 units were sold, 16% fewer than in January 1999.
On the other hand, the association felt the revision to the income tax might eventually bring positive results in 2000. Car sales are also influenced by the Slovakia's aging car fleet, which needs constant replacement, and by the low purchasing power of citizens.
Transpetrol pipeline takes 35 million DEM loan
Crude oil transport company Transpetrol of Bratislava has taken out a five-year syndicated loan of 35 million DEM, arranged by Credit Lyonnais Bank and Bank Austria Creditanstalt. This is the first syndicated loan provided by a consortium of foreign banks to a Slovak company in 2000.
State-owned crude oil pipeline operator Transpetrol expects a gross profit of 621 million crowns ($14.4 million) for 1999 on total revenues of 2.2 billion crowns ($51.1 million), roughly the same level from 1998. Crude-oil transit accounts for 72% of proceeds.
For 2000, the company projects revenues of 2.3 billion crowns, with a pre-tax profit of 522 million crowns. The drop from 1999 is due to growing depreciation and maintenance costs connected to the company's extensive capital investments.
Investments in 2000 are planned to amount to 990 million crowns and will be geared toward route development for pipeline transport, storage capacities, safety and protection systems, water protection, electricity savings, information systems and petrol stations.
Monopoly insurer increases car insurance rates
Slovakia's largest commercial insurance company, Slovenská Poisťovňa (SP) increased the obligatory liability insurance rates for motor vehicles as of January 1, 2000. The increase, which amounted to 18.4% on average, applied to all categories of motor vehicles, said Lucia Bombošová of Slovenská Poisťovňa.
"We increased the rates as a consequence of the worsened situation of liability claims from these kinds of insurance policies. Insurance claims also grew as a result of the price increase of spare parts and the increase in health care costs," Bombošová said.
In 2000, obligatory liability insurance for motor vehicles with an engine up to 1,300 cc will rise from 156 crowns to 1,320 crowns, and owners of cars with engines of 1,300 cc to 1,800 cc will pay 2,640 crowns in insurance this year. The obligatory insurance for the category from 1,800 cc to 2,500 cc is 4,920 crowns (up 864 crowns), and owners of motor vehicles with engines exceeding 2,500 cc will pay 6,480 crowns.
SP is the only provider of obligatory motor vehicle liability insurance in Slovakia. A law on cancelling its monopoly position, which will allow clients to choose an insurance company, has only been partly prepared. It is expected to be enacted within the next two years.
Slovnaft refinery increases fuel prices again
Slovakia's largest oil refinery Slovnaft Bratislava increased the price of gasoline by 1.10 Slovak crowns while diesel fuel rose 80 hellers as of March 1 this year. Slovnaft spokesman Ľubomír Žitňan explained that Slovnaft had had to increase fuel prices in its retail network of Slovnaft-Benzinol-operated petrol stations to respond to a recent rise in prices of Brent crude oil on world markets.
Žitňan said that diesel fuel prices in Slovakia had actually gone up only 50 hellers since January 1, because in January Slovnaft had twice decreased prices. Gasoline prices went up 2 crowns per liter because of a state tax put into effect at the beginning of the year.
Prices at Slovnaft stations are 34.24 crowns per litre for unleaded fuel compared to 33.10 crowns at Shell and 34.40 crowns at Mol stations.
Žitňan said that on the London stock exchange, Brent crude oil was traded at $30.205 on March 7, while on March 8 its price was $32.625 per barrel. In late December 1999, crude oil prices were $25.5 on average, and in January 2000 remained at this level. In February, oil prices jumped to $27.8 on average and ended up at $30.6 during the first week of March.
In 1999 Slovnaft processed 5.31 million tons of crude oil, slightly down from 1998 when the volume of processed crude oil was 5.34 million tons.
Compiled by Keith Miller from SITA