CORPORATE BRIEFS

Caspian investment brings Nafta Gbely $400,000 monthly

Slovak gas firm Nafta Gbely may soon be out of danger of defaulting on its loans, claimed Nafta boss Arpád Demko on September 7, thanks to a lucrative crude-oil extraction project the company runs in Kazakhstan.

Nafta Gbely launched the Caspian Sea project with a $20 million investment in 1997; it currently brings the company about $400,000 a month, a yield that Nafta's management wants to increase to $600,000 monthly in the near future. Thanks to the gradual return on investment, the threat of defaulting on loans taken to begin the project will be averted within a few weeks, Demko told a news conference.

Nafta's debts totaled 2.5 billion crowns ($61 million) in late June, 683 million crowns of which ($16.5 million) were short-term debts. Nafta has paid off over 900 million crowns of debt with domestic banks in the last seven months, said Demko, and hopes to bring its debt situation back to normal by the end of the year.

Nafta Gbely ended the first half of this year with a net profit of 218.8 million crowns, compared with 130.5 million crowns for the same period last year.

Nafta Gbely is involved in the extraction of hydrocarbon fules, gas storage, geological research , construction, and assembly activities. Its most important shareholders are the Slovak firm Druhá Obchodná (45.9%), Chase Nominees Limited London (12.11%), Slovak gas utility SPP (10%), and Slovak state bank VÚB (6.9%). About 25% of Nafta shares are owned by small shareholders.

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