Press distributor PNS returned to FNM minus newsstands

The FNM state privatisation agency on May 20 became the sole owner of Prvá Novinová Spoločnosť (PNS - Slovakia's dominant press distributor). However, the PNS was returned to the FNM minus 78% of its national network of newsstands, reported Peter Hunor, head of the FNM's Receivables Monitoring Section, at a news conference on June 4.

Hunor is now also a member of the PNS Supervisory Board, having been appointed to the position on the same day the FNM regained control of the distributor.

Hunor reported that at a special meeting on August 15, 1998, the former PNS Board of Directors headed by Stanislav Srník approved the sale of 861 of the PNS's 1,100 stands to the firm KT Print for 7.8 million Slovak crowns, or 9,060 crowns ($200) per newsstand. Subsequently, the PNS signed a contract with KT Print to lease back each stand for 1,200 crowns monthly.

Hunor explained that the sale of the newsstands had been kept so secret that even PNS employees did not know of it. He added it was abnormal to sell a newsstand for 9,600 crowns and then lease it back for 14,400 crowns annually. However, he conceded it was difficult to express the real value of a newsstand in monetary terms. "The stand can have zero book value, but for the PNS it is valuable because it is a distribution place and people bring about 10 million crowns to these places everyday," stated Hunor. He said the sales price of 9,060 crowns made no sense "even as a joke."

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