CORPORATE BRIEFS

Juhocukor Decreases Sugar Production

The sugar mill Juhocukor a.s. Dunajská Streda, with a yearly production of 60 thousand tonnes of sugar, supplies almost one third of the Slovak sugar market. It is the top company among Slovak sugar mills with regard to the volume of production. The company is capable of processing 6 thousand tonnes of sugar beetroot per day, while the Slovak average is 2.7 thousand tonnes.

After the entry of a foreign sugar mill concern, Eastern Sugar, the company recorded a considerable improvement in conditions. Eastern Sugar owns 76% of company shares, while 19% is in the hands of small shareholders, 4% is owned by investment funds and the remaining 1% belongs to the Restitution Investment Fund.

The company emitted bonds worth 150 million Sk ($4.11 million), with a 11.6% interest rate, payable in July 1999. Funds obtained this way were mainly invested in the increase of capacities. Last year, the company suffered a loss of 119.2 million Sk ($3.26 million), caused by the overproduction of sugar in Slovakia in the past two years, which exceeded the level of consumption by some 20 thousand tonnes per year.

This year, sugar mills took into account the unfavourable situation on the market and decreased the plantation area of sugar beetroot. "Even though the problem is not being dealt with according to law, as it is in the EU, Slovak sugar mills must be disciplined even though the quotas are not firmly set," said the executive director of Eastern Sugar, Heinz Zemke. Juhocukor has reduced its plantation area by almost 30% to 9.5 thousand hectares. It is estimated that this will be reflected in a decrease in processed sugar beetroot by some 80 thousand tonnes. Last year, 500 thousand tonnes were processed.

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