Harach in VSŽ investigation
THE FINANCIAL Markets Office suspends the December 21 sale of a stake in steel firm VSŽ because of suspicions of price manipulation, throwing the position of Economy Minister Ľubomír Harach into doubt. The government had sold a 21.2 per cent stake to the brokerage house SMD at a price far lower than other companies, including VSŽ itself, had offered.
Allianz acquires SP
THE WORLD'S second-biggest insurer steps into the Slovak market with the acquisition of former state monopoly Slovenská Poisťovňa (SP), believed to be worth $170 million, after the Privatisation Ministry approves the sale of the state's 67 per cent stake in the company to the German giant Allianz. A further 24 per cent stake, owned by financial house Penta Group, will also be claimed by the German company, giving it a total 91 per cent holding.
Industrial park filling up
SLOVAKIA'S newest and largest industrial park, a facility near western Slovakia's Lozorno owned by Volkswagen Slovakia, gets its first four tenants. Makers of car parts Johnson Controls, Brose, Hella Behr and Lear Corporation set up shop in two production halls that sprawl over 60,000 square metres.
US Steel investment
STEELMAKER US Steel Košice announces planned capital investments of more than Sk5 billion ($119 million) in 2002, in line with its promise to invest $700 million in its Košice plant over the next 10 years.
Yukos inks Transpetrol deal
SLOVAK state officials sign a contract with Michail Chodorkovskij, the main shareholder in Russian gas firm Yukos, on the sale of 49 per cent in Slovak pipeline operator Transpetrol for $74 million. As part of the deal, Yukos will have management control. Yukos is Russia's second-largest oil company
VSŽ share sale approved
THE FINANCIAL Markets Office unfreezes a transaction it halted in January involving the sale of 21 per cent of shares in steelmaker VSŽ. US Steel had declared an interest in the shares but had been unable to come to an agreement with the Economy Ministry, which was reportedly asking too high a price.
The shares were subsequently sold on the Bratislava stock exchange an hour before trading ended on the last business day of 2001 to three investment firms - Penta Group, J & T and Istrokapitál - arousing suspicions the deal had been arranged long before.
Embraco to add 500 jobs
EMBRACO Slovakia, 100 per cent subsidiary of the Brazilian producer of refrigerator compressors, says it will invest another $15 million this year in its operations in eastern Slovakia's Spišská Nová Ves to increase capacity from 2.3 to 3.7 million compressors a year, raising its workforce from 1,300 to 1,800.
SPP stake fetches $2.7 billion
THE PRIVATISATION Commission for the sale of a 49 per cent stake in gas utility SPP recommends the government accept an offer of $2.7 billion for the firm from a consortium of Gaz de France, Russia's Gazprom and Germany's Ruhrgas. The 49 per cent stake and management control at SPP will give the group a grip on the main route for Russian gas to western Europe.
Bus privatisation speeds up
FOLLOWING the approval in March of bids for 49 per cent stakes in the Bratislava and Dunajská Streda public bus services, the local SAD services in Nové Zámky, Banská Bystrica, Prešov and Košice all receive binding offers. SAD is an umbrella company uniting 17 local bus services. Selling off the bus lines is expected to help renovate Slovakia's ageing bus fleet.
Energy sales approved
THE CABINET approves the Sk25 billion ($530 million) sale of minority stakes in three state energy distributors, launching a wider move to take the energy sector out of state hands and put it under the control of market forces.
The government selects the German utility E.ON, French utility Electricité de France and German RWE Plus as the winners of 49 per cent stakes in the western Slovak ZSE, the central SSE and eastern VSE, respectively.
Tesco building more stores
BRITISH retail chain Tesco announces it will build a further four massive hypermarket stores in Slovakia, in Prievidza, Poprad, Trenčín and Piešťany, in 2002, adding another 1,400 workers to its current ranks of 6,000. The chain already has eight such stores in the country, as well as another five retail centres.
Tax breaks scrapped
PARLIAMENT passes an obscure law that ends investment-related tax breaks in Slovakia as of September 1, 2002. Because the country's planned entry into the European Union requires the elimination of such tax breaks, investors will henceforth have to rely on the good will of the State Aid Office to see past state tax break commitments honoured and future investment aid dispensed.
EU agrees to VW tax breaks
SLOVAKIA and the European Union come to an agreement on tax relief provided to Volkswagen Slovakia that brings it into line with EU rules and brings the country closer to finalising an agreement on the business competition docket of pre-entry talks.
Nový Calex finally sold
IN THE SIXTH round of a tender for home-appliance maker Nový Calex, the General Frost firm under the Lithuanian refrigerator maker Sanige is declared the winner by the Bratislava region court.
Foreign investment down
FOREIGN investment in 2001 in Slovakia fell to Sk57.9 billion ($1.3 billion) from the record Sk99.6 billion recorded in 2000, the central bank reports. Similarly, capital flows declined by 50 per cent last year from 2000.
Sumitomo plans expansion
JAPANESE wire and cable producer Sumitomo Electric announces plans to double output at factories in Slovakia, Romania and Poland in the next three years, investing 60 billion yen ($500 million) in the process.
Seat comes to Bratislava
SPANISH automaker Seat, part of the Volkswagen group, decides to move 10 per cent of its production of the Ibiza model to Bratislava, starting manufacture of 20,000 cars annually by January 2003.
Heineken threatens freeze
THE HEINEKEN Slovakia brewery threatens to freeze investments after an Anti-Monopoly Office decision rejects its entry into the regional distribution market. Heineken has invested Sk3.5 billion ($84 million) in Slovakia in seven years.
Whirlpool boosts production
WHIRLPOOL announces plans to move production of 150,000 washing machines annually from its new site in Poland to Slovakia, increasing output at its Poprad factory from 1.5 million units a year to 2 million a year, and raising the number of jobs from 600 to 841.