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STB Advanced Technologies investment questionable

THE ANNOUNCED €1 billion investment in eastern Slovakia by London-based STB Advanced Technology is unclear, the daily SME reported.

The lack of clarity surrounding the investment came as an unpleasant surprise for the Slovak Economy Ministry, and the Slovak Investment and Trade Development Agency (SARIO), which is responsible for foreign investors coming to Slovakia, was not even informed of the proposed investment.

The owners of STB Advanced Technologies are two Ukrainian and one Russian businessmen but it is unclear where they got the money for the investment.
The case goes back to 1986 when several countries, including Communist Czechoslovakia, joined a project to establish a big extraction combine in Ukraine.

However, the project was never completed and until today Slovakia is dealing with the problem of what it should do with its Sk2 or Sk3 billion (€52 to €80 million), which represents the country's share in the project.

In 1992 the cabinet transferred the issues relating to the combine to the Slovak company VSŽ, which is now in the hands of the Penta investment group.

Last year the former Economy Minister Pavol Rusko prepared a memorandum according to which the state will give the combine stake to STB Advanced Technology in return for which the company would invest in Slovakia and receive various forms of state assistance.

The ministry is now trying to establish whether the memorandum is valid or not. SARIO director Roman Kuruc disagrees with signing such a memorandum and considers it strange that such an investment is being announced without the knowledge of SARIO.

His agency talked to the firm last year but since then there has been no contact. SARIO now wants to renew the talks.

Penta also considers this to be a serious problem. According to Penta's spokeswoman Andrea Straková, one of the businessmen, Ukrainian Raviľ Abubekerov, is known to have been involved in several big projects in the past, none of which were realized. Penta does not want to cooperate with him.

Compiled by Martina Jurinová from press reports
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