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ECONOMIC WEEKLY TREND DISTRIBUTES ITS TREND TOP ANNUAL AWARDS

Orange and HVB take the lead

THE PROMINENT Slovak economic weekly Trend has named mobile telephone network operator Orange Slovensko the Company of the Year 2003 and HVB Bank the most successful bank. Trend distributed its annual prizes for outstanding business results in 2003.
Orange, which generates its sales entirely from domestic demand, is the first company from the non-production sphere to win the prestigious prize. In the previous years, the awards went to exporting firms such as Volkswagen Slovakia, Slovalco aluminium smelter, or INA Skalica.
In 2002, Orange Slovensko reached a 62.2 percent share of the overall sales of mobile operators. Presently, it has more than 2 million active customers using its services.

THE PROMINENT Slovak economic weekly Trend has named mobile telephone network operator Orange Slovensko the Company of the Year 2003 and HVB Bank the most successful bank. Trend distributed its annual prizes for outstanding business results in 2003.

Orange, which generates its sales entirely from domestic demand, is the first company from the non-production sphere to win the prestigious prize. In the previous years, the awards went to exporting firms such as Volkswagen Slovakia, Slovalco aluminium smelter, or INA Skalica.

In 2002, Orange Slovensko reached a 62.2 percent share of the overall sales of mobile operators. Presently, it has more than 2 million active customers using its services.

In the first three quarters of 2003, Orange registered a turnover of Sk11.8 billion (€286.75 million). Its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) were, as of the end of September, Sk5.2 billion (€126.37 million) and its net profit was Sk2.1 billion (€51.03 million).

"We are glad that Orange Slovensko has obtained this award. It is good news not only for us, but for the whole sector of services that used to hover at the bottom of the ranking for Company of the Year," said Pavol Lančarič, the general director of Orange Slovensko.

Orange, S.A., whose majority shareholder is France Telecom, owns a 64% stake in Orange Slovensko.

Tire maker Continental Matador was ranked second, followed by Slovakia's biggest electronics company, Sony Slovakia. The list of top ten companies also featured the country's other mobile network operator, EuroTel, two cement producers, and three machine industry companies.

HVB Bank has ended Tatra Banka's six-year residency atop Trend's banking segment ranking.

The number of distribution centres of HVB Bank Slovakia increased this year by 21. "We do not plan to abandon our strategy of expansion, which is in line with the activities of our mother company, the bank Austria Creditanstalt, in central and eastern Europe," said Cristian Suppanz, the chairman of the HVB board of directors. Total bank assets rose 21.9 percent year-on-year.

The number of clients, as of the end of September, had reached more than 22 thousand, 23 percent more than that of last year. Client deposits grew by 7.5 percent, and the volume of credits granted to clients increased by 21.3 percent.

HVB Bank is a 100 percent daughetr company of the Austrian bank Austria Creditanstalt HVB Group.

Slovenská sporiteľňa (controlled by Austria's Erste Bank) came second in the bank rank, while Tatra Banka slipped to the third position.

Kooperativa insurance company managed to keep its lead when the Trend weekly selected it as the most successful insurer for the second time. The Allianz - Slovenská poistovňa and Uniqua insurers followed on the chart.

Trend monitors sales growth indicators and added value or sales profitability when selecting the most successful companies. In the banking segment, it focuses on market share increase, capital and assets profitability, and operating profit. When evaluating insurance companies, the weekly watches market share, written premiums, commercial output, and capital profitability, news wire SITA wrote.

For a decade, Trend has annually published a ranking of the top 200 non-financial companies, based on consolidated sales results. In 2003, Volkswagen Slovakia leads the chart, followed by gas utility Slovenský plynárenský priemysel, and oil refinery Slovnaft. The fourth position belongs to steelmaker US Steel Košice.

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