Slovakia's sole shipbuilder, Slovenské Lodenice Komárno (SLK), achieved a significant success in August when Bulgarian privatization authorities announced that the SLK's project had won a tender to buy a shipyards in Ruse, on the Danube River.
SLK strategy department director Jiri Dlouhý told The Slovak Spectator that the Slovak project was chosen in the tender over a bid from an unspecified German company also interested in acquiring the Bulgarian shipbuilder, Lodenica Ruse.
"We started to look at shipyards in Ruse in March last year and then we worked out a project which was submitted in the tender after conditions were announced in February," Dlouhý said. "The Bulgarian authorities did not announce the name of the German company, so neither can we."
The SLK is now conducting a detailed review of Ruse's financial situation, and this audit will be the basis for agreeing on the final price of the deal. "The privatisation decision was based on our project. It was not the price that was decisive," Dlouhý said.
SLK said it wanted to invest around $12 million into Ruse's shipyards, in which the Slovak side will hold 80% of equity while a local employees company will own the remaining 20%.
Dlouhý said the SLK would cover the investment both from its own and external sources. He did not elaborate on what form of external financing the company planned to tap.
The Slovak shipbuilder wants to retain Ruse's long term production program which during the Soviet era and since has been focused on building oil tankers with dead weight between 5,000 to 6,000 tonnes. The SLK said it would use its marketing strategies and know-how to sell the products of its latest acquisition.
"Products from Ruse will go to the same markets as SLK products. They (Ruse) have a contract for seven ships with a deadweight of 4,750 tonnes which they are currently building," Dlouhy said.
The Slovak shipbuilder exports 60% of its vessels to western markets, with a large portion of the products going to customers in Germany. The second largest market for SLK is Russia. SLK said earlier this year it planned to produce 15 new cargo ships in 1998, compared with 14 vessels in the previous year.