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Economics and business roundup

October 3 - The Economy Ministry supports a proposal for fixing the cost of highway construction. The measure is designed to prevent construction firms from raising their prices during the course of the construction process.

October 3 - The Economy Ministry supports a proposal for fixing the cost of highway construction. The measure is designed to prevent construction firms from raising their prices during the course of the construction process.

October 4 - The Agriculture Ministry announces that it plans to sell its 1.09-percent stake in UniBanka. The majority UniBanka shareholder, UniCredito Italiano, is interested in buying the ministry's stake.

October 5 - The Slovak cabinet tasks new Economy Minister Jirko Malchárek to start investment negotiations with 10 select companies. Malchárek says that these companies should invest Sk18.3 billion (€867 million) in Slovakia and create 3,800 jobs, with an additional 2,541 jobs created indirectly.

October 6 - Cabinet ministers approve a plan to unbundle SPP, which will result in the eventual separation of the gas utility's transport activities from its distribution channels. The complete separation of the networks should be legally completed next year.

October 6- The Slovak government approves basic parameters for the 2006 state budget. The priorities for next year include education, science and research.

October 6 - US IT firm Avnet Partner Solutions will take over DNS Slovakia in November, the company announced. The two firms signed the acquisition contract in August of last year.

October 7 - Finance Minister Ivan Mikloš announces cuts in regional assistance to Žilina, which the city receives in connection with the investment of the South Korean automaker, KIA. The specific sums have not yet been determined.

October 10 - Belgian firm Aspel will invest Sk100 million (€25,000) in Slovakia through its subsidiary, Aspel Slovakia, by building a plant in Kežmarok in Eastern Slovakia. The electrical engineering and plastics production plant should be completed by June 2006. The company's sales in the following four years are estimated to reach €10 million.

October 10 - The Finance Ministry presents an analysis that shows the 19-percent flat tax as beneficial for all groups. According to the study, the real income of minimum-wage earners increased by 3.1 percent, and the real income of a two-child family in which both parents earn the minimum wage increased by nearly 9 percent.

October 11 - Fitch Ratings upgrades Slovakia's long-term foreign currency rating from A- to A. The agency also affirms the long-term local currency rating at A+ and raises the short-term foreign currency rating from F2 to F1. The country ceiling is upgraded from A+ to AA-. The outlook on Slovakia's ratings is stable.

October 11 - The Economy Ministry, Žilina officials and landowners finally settle the long-term conflict over the land meant for the future site of the KIA manufacturing plant. A signed agreement between all parties ensures compensation for land of up to Sk350 (€19) per square metre and removes all threat of future litigation.

October 13 - The Slovak antitrust authority examines the takeover of Alufinal by Swedish company Sapa, based on Sapa's proposal. On July 13, aluminum smelter ZSNP Žiar nad Hronom signed a contract with Sapa on its entry into Alufinal, a subsidiary of ZSNP.

October 14 - The privatization agency FNM approves a strategic investment plan prepared by Italian Enel in regards to Slovakia's dominant power producer, Slovenské elektrárne. Enel's acquisition of its 66-percent stake in Slovenské elektrárne should be completed by the end of this year.

October 14 - Tyre producer Matador announces that it will acquire Hungarian firm Horváth Gumi on January 1, 2006. The contract was signed on October 7. Horváth Gumi's share on the Hungarian market exceeded 11 percent last year. The price of the deal was not disclosed.

October 17 - Slovakia's registered unemployment rate is 11.2 percent in September, according to the data released by the labour office. This represents a 0.32 percent increase month-on-month and a 1.94 percent decrease year-on-year.

October 19 - The government appoints Peter Vrátny the head of a new railway regulatory authority. The office, set to start operating November 1, will replace the current State Railways Institute.

October 20 - According to Regional Manager Marco Arcelli, Italian company Enel announces its interest in acquiring one of the three regional power distributors in Slovakia.

October 24 - District Court Bratislava I orders the Finance Ministry to pay Sk660 million (€16.8 million) to bankrupt Devín banka in connection with the bank's recovery of Russian debt towards Slovakia. The ministry is determined to appeal the verdict.

October 25 - Slovak parliament approves a top limit for real estate tax levied by municipalities. The top tax rate cannot exceed twenty-times the lowest tax rate in the respective area.

October 27 - J&T Finance Group buys 100 percent of Swiss IBI Bank, which specializes in private banking.

October 31 - Central-European Media Enterprises, a company run by US business people, acquires a controlling stake in private television station TV Markíza for $28.7 million.

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