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Monday, December 5, 2022

Nepotism Like In The Good Old Days: Will Golob Appoint His Friend To The Top Of The HSE Group?!

By: Sara Kovač / Nova24tv

After the news broke that former State Secretary at the Ministry of Infrastructure, Blaž Košorok, will be leaving his post as director of the “Gen energija” energy company, many people are now wondering who will be the new head of the state-owned “Holding Slovenske elektrarne – HSE” (Slovenian Power Plant Holding), the largest Slovenian electricity company. In this respect, the newspaper Finance wonders whether we will see more nepotism in the recruitment process, as the ground is already being prepared for a new appointment.

“Will the Prime Minister’s best man take the leading position in HSE?” the newspaper Finance wonders, in connection with the appointment of a new boss at the HSE, the largest Slovenian electricity company and the largest producer and trader of electricity on the wholesale market, which will receive 800 million euros in state guarantees, pointing out, among other things, that new supervisors have been in place since the middle of September. The newspaper Dnevnik also reports that there is a high risk of nepotism in the case of the appointment of the head of HSE.

After the Supervisory Board of the “Gen energija” (Gen energy) concluded an early termination agreement with former Director-General Blaž Košorok at the beginning of the week, it seems that a change at the top of the HSE is also being considered. “According to our reliable information, after the change of leadership at Gen energija, a change at the top of the first state energy pillar, the Slovenian Power Plant Holding, is also expected in the next week. A personal friend of Prime Minister Robert Golob, Tomaž Štokelj, is expected to take over the management of the company,” the Dnevnik newspaper reveals.

Štokelj is now working for Gen-I
The new supervisors, who have been in their positions from last month onward, are expected to make all the necessary preparations to replace the HSE management as soon as possible. The post of Director-General of the HSE, currently held by Dr Viktor Vračar, is to be filled by Tomaž Štokelj, who is currently the Director of Strategic Portfolio Management in the Gen-I energy company. Štokelj joined the company “Soške Elektrarne Nova Gorica” (Soča power Plants Nova Gorica) after graduation and later joined the Slovenian Power Plant Holding, where he was the Executive Director for Trading and Sales from its founding until February 2017, according to the website of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Ljubljana.

However, since Štokelj is said to be a friend of the long-time chairman of the board of the Gen-I energy company, where he is also currently employed, many people have raised accusations of nepotism in light of his possible appointment. The newspaper Finance reports that Uroš Podobnik, who took up his post at the request of Tonin’s Nova Slovenija party (New Slovenija – NSi), is to remain on the HSE Board of Directors.

As is well known, the current government has granted guarantees of 800 million euros to the HSE group in order to ensure liquidity for electricity purchases. The money is likely to be used to pay for the insurance requirements of forward leases and for cover purchases in cases where own generation fails short of expectations.

The “young boys” are pulling the main strings
While the Golob government said before the elections that it would not recruit its own people, we can see that the reality is quite different from the promises it made. Žiga Debeljak has taken over the state economy. As Chairman of the Board of the Slovenian Sovereign Holding (“Slovenski državni holding – SDH”), he has a major say in the management of the country’s 10 billion assets. In the middle of the month, he took over the leadership of Telekom’s Supervisory Board, and he also chairs Gen energy’s Supervisory Board. Since June, he has also been the Chief Non-Executive Director of the Bank Assets Management Company. According to some sources for the public media outlet Radio-Television Slovenia, the main strings are now being pulled by the so-called “young boys,” a circle of influential, nowadays not-so-young managers, which is said to include Debeljak, the current Minister of Finance Klemen Boštjančič, his former colleague from the Sava insurance company, Matej Narat, and Borut Jamnik from the Modra zavarovalnica insurance company.

The words of Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovenska demokratska stranka – SDS) MP Zvonko Černač, who said in one of the episodes of the show “Tarča” (Target) about the Golob government that although state-owned companies are owned by all citizens, the ruling party behaves as if they are part of their electoral loot, are very true. “The same names keep appearing in the management of these assets. Mr Jamnik has been managing these assets since the days of the Liberal Democracy of Slovenia party (Liberalna demokracija Slovenije – LDS). Mr Golob was the State Secretary in the LDS party when LDS was still the ruling party. So, the people who voted for Golob did not vote for anything new. They voted for something old; they voted for those who lost the elections – for Alenka Bratušek and Marjan Šarec, who are now drowning in Freedom,” he was clear.

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