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CORPORATE BRIEFS

Slovnaft to begin investor talks in October

Oil refiner Slovnaft hopes to begin talks on the entry of a foreign partner into the refinery in the second half of October. Slovnaft wants to offer a strategic partner a 34% stake in the company, under the supervision of investment bank Solomon Smith Barney.

Slovnaft is majority owned by a management company called Slovintegra, which holds a 54% stake.

In the first half of 1999, Slovnaft's sales were 15.7 billion Slovak crowns ($390 million), of which exports accounted for 63%. Slovnaft reported losses of 2.95 billion crowns in 1H99, mostly due to the creation of 3.82 billion crowns in reserves on forex losses. Operating profit fell to 1.04 billion crowns, 540 million down from the same period last year.

Slovnaft's key investment project, a heavy-oil processing operation known as Environmental Fuel Project Apollo (EFPA) has been put into partial operation. EFPA, which will cost a total of $526 million, is scheduled to be finished by the end of the year, and is expected to put Slovnaft among the ten most modern refineries in Europe.

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