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Sunday, October 2, 2022

They Sold So Many State Companies! The Social Democrats Are a Party That Has Been a Part of All Left-Wing Governments, and Actively Participated in the Privatisation of Slovenian State-Owned Enterprises!

By: Sara Rančigaj / Nova24tv

After Slovenia gained independence, many Slovenian companies found themselves in debt, and some were very underfunded. While some managed to get out of the tight spot, the largest companies were mostly sold off by the left-wing governments. Among them were banks, manufacturing plants, a pharmaceutical company, and the national airline. Some companies became more successful after they were bought, while others (like Adria Airways, Slovenia’s national airline) ended their story quite sadly. And while the Constitutional Arch Coalition is currently criticising the government, saying that the state should not sell its share in the companies to the Hungarians, and are even accusing it of “Orbanisation,” the Slovenian Bank SKB was “Hungarianised” during the government of Marjan Šarec. And the only party that had participated in all the left-wing governments, which sold off state property, were the Social Democrats.

The largest owners of the Koper Bank, which own 82.25 percent – Istrabenz, Intereuropa and the Port of Koper – signed an agreement in October 2001 (under then-Prime Minister Janez Drnovšek) with the Italian banking group SanPaolo IMI in Turin to sell part of their shares in the Koper Bank. The Port of Koper had a 32.39 percent share, Istrabenz 29.86 percent, and Intereuropa a 20 percent share. The shares of the Koper Bank were sold gradually, in the years from 2001 to 2007, and the bank was sold for a total of 215 million euros.

In 2001, the Supervisory Board of the SKB Bank selected the company Societe Generale as its strategic partner, and the merger led to new sources of financing, knowledge and fresh capital. The Societe Generale group, which employs almost 70,000 people worldwide and is the 15th largest bank in the world, with a balance sheet total of 460 billion euros, bought SKB for 143 million euros.

The sale of the SKB Bank is similar to the case of the sale of Sava Tourism. The foreign owner (in this case, the French Societe Generale) decided to sell its stake in the bank. We could say that back then, it was the government of Marjan Šarec that “Orbanised” us, as the Hungarian group OTP bought the SKB Banks and its branches in 2019. In recent years, OTP has been growing strongly in Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, and it mostly bought banks from Societe Generale.

Lek was sold to a Swiss company, Droga Kolinska to a Croatian one
In 2002 (when Drnovšek from the left-wing Liberal Democracy of Slovenia was the Prime Minister), we also sold the large pharmaceutical company Lek to the Swiss company Novartis for 880 million euros. The Capital Association (Kapitalska družba) sold its shares in the company, as did the Compensation Association (Odškodninske družbe), the National Finance Association (Nacionalne finančne družbe), and the Investment Company Triglav (DZU Triglav). Then there was a lull in the sale of state property for several years, and the selling continued with the sale of Droga Kolinska in 2010 (the Prime Minister was Borut Pahor from the left-wing Social Democrats party) when the company was sold to Atlantic Group for 382 million euros. With this, all of the large Slovenian brands were transferred to the ownership of the Croatian company: Barcaffe, Cockta, Argeta and Donat.

In 2013 (when the Prime Minister was Alenka Bratušek from the left-wing Party of Alenka Bratušek), Helios was sold to the Austrian Ring and its financiers – the American fund Franklin Templeton, and Blackstone, for 170 million euros. In 2016, the Domžale-based Helios was sold to the Japanese company Kansai Paint, which is one of the ten largest manufacturers of coatings in the world. The total value of the deal, according to the Japanese, amounted to 572 million euros, which also included the liabilities of the merged company. During Bratušek’s time, Aerodrom Ljubljana (the main airport) was also sold to Fraport (for 135 million euros), the largest Slovenian retailer Mercator was sold to the smaller Agrokor (261 million euros), and Letriko was sold to the company Mahle (for 7.6 million euros).

Most sales happened during the time of Miro Cerar
Even during the government of Miro Cerar, quite a few sales were made. In 2015, we sold Elan to Wiltan Enterprises Limited. Today, this company owns 95 percent of Elan, and the remaining five percent are owned by the BAMLI-affiliated Merril Lynch International. In the same year, Adria Airways Tehnika was sold to Linetech Holding for two million euros, Nova KBM Bank to the Apollo fund and EBRD for 250 million euros, Žito to Podravka for 33 million euros, and the Laško Brewery to Heineken for 115 million euros.

In 2016, among other things, Slovenian Sovereign Holding bought 70 million euros worth of receivables of the Sava company from the Bank Assets Management Company. It converted the capital into ownership so that the Slovenian Sovereign Holding and the Capital Association became the 45 percent owners of Sava. The American venture capital fund York Global Finance, which, according to some, also manages the billions that disappeared from Slovenia during privatisations, bought 42 percent of Sava shares for 45 million euros after negotiations with Slovenian Sovereign Holding. At that time, the Aha Emmi company was also sold to the Polish company Aluform Spolka, which paid 2.5 million euros for it.

The story of Adria Airways ended sadly
In 2016, they sold Adria Airways to the 4K Invest fund, which turned out to be a bad owner, and in 2019, the story of Adria Airways ended in bankruptcy. In 2017, Paloma was bought by the Eco-Invest Fund for ten million euros, and Cimos by the Palladio Finanziaria Fund for one hundred thousand euros, with a commitment to repay 110 million euros of the company’s debt. In 2018, we sold another bank: Gorenjska bank was sold to AIK Banka for 43 million euros.

Sales even took place during the Marjan Šarec government, the first of which was the sale of SKB Bank to the Hungarian OTP by the French group Societe Generale. In 2019, they also sold Abanka to Nova KBM (for 444 million euros), but NKBM was also bought by the Hungarian OTP in 2021. In 2019, they also privatised Nova Ljubljanska Banka (New Ljubljana Bank), where the Brand Investment Partners Fund and the EBRD bought their shares for 10 million euros.

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