According to a well-informed source at the state privatization agency Fund for National Property (FNM), the FNM's Presidium has decided to privatize over half of the shares in Slovenská Poisťovňa (Slovak Insurance Company - SP), the country's largest insurance company, the Sme daily reported on December 5.
However, the source, who wished to remain anonymous, did not say at what price the stake was being sold nor to whom it was going. The FNM's spokesman, Oto Balogh, later denied the report, calling it "nonsense."
Slovenská Poisťovňa is one of four key financial institutions in Slovakia that the government has prepared for privatization but has been reluctant to conclude. According to a June statement by the president of the FNM Presidium, Štefan Gavorník, "as far as privatization of the four key Slovak financial institutions goes, Slovenská Poisťovňa can be privatized anytime."
Since it controls almost 80 percent of the country's insurance market, the government is handling this privatization jewel carefully, especially since SP occupied center stage in a conflict among the three governing political parties that almost led to a split in the coalition last June. The company's basic assets amount to 1.5 billion Sk, while the total value of insurance funds and premiums it collected in 1995 exceeded 25 billion Sk. As of December 5, SP's average price per share at the RM-System Slovakia was 1,419 Sk.
Compiled by Andrea Lörinczová from Sme and other press reports