In the long awaited last stage of the privatization process the state is selling its stakes in some of the most attractive Slovenian companies. These include Telekom Slovenia, the airport operator Aerodrom Ljubljana, high tech laser developer Fotona, Letrika, a global provider of electrical and mechatronic solutions mostly for the automotive industry, and legendary ski maker Elan.
The government announced the sale of its stakes in 15 important Slovenian companies earlier this year, starting a final wave of privatization and with it a move out of the economy. The list includes some of the most lucrative enterprises in the country.
Telekom Slovenije is the major telecommunications company in the country, with a dominant market share at home and a strong position in selected markets of southern Europe, including Gibraltar and the fast growing markets of Macedonia and Kosovo. Last year the group’s revenues exceeded 800 million euros with 43.7 million euros of net profits.
Adria Airways is the national air carrier connecting Slovenia with other European countries: The company is also an important player in southeastern Europe. Like many other airlines Adria was heavily hit by the financial crisis – since 2009 it has significantly cut losses and almost halved the number of its employees. In 2012 the company made around 150 million euros in sales revenues. Aerodrom Ljubljana operates Slovenia’s main international airport Joľe Pučnik Airport near Ljubljana. Last year’s turnover was around 32 million euros – with 5 million of net profits.
Elan is one of Slovenia’s best known brands. The innovative ski producer invented shaped skis back in 1988 and continues to receive awards for its breakthrough solutions in ski design and technology. The company from Begunje also produces first class yachts. It may not be the biggest yacht maker (its global market share is around 3 percent) – yet according to the international press Elan is one of the most innovative brands in yacht design. Elan’s turnover for last year: around 81 million euros.
Letrika – previously known as Iskra Avtoelektrika – produces starters, alternators, electric and mechatronic systems for the automotive industry. It operates globally with plants not only in Slovenia but also in Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil and China. Letrika’s main asset is its emphasis on innovation and strong R&D. The group’s sales reached 243 million euros in 2012.
In the cold war era Fotona was part of a large Slovenian electronic company called Iskra: the company produced, among other things, laser based fire control systems for tanks like the Soviet T-72. Today the defense program generates only a small part of the company’s 20 million euro revenues. Since Slovenia’s independence, Fotona has moved from weapons to dentistry and medicine: it has become a major producer of dental lasers and systems used in aesthetic medicine and other areas of health care. The government is also selling its stakes in food company ®ito, diversified group Unior, NKBM – the second largest bank in Slovenia, Paloma hygienic paper product manufacturer and five other companies.
Many said »finally« when the government’s privatization plans were announced, as the unhealthy relationship between politics and economy could well be one of the major causes behind the deep crisis in Slovenia, if not the main one. Plenty still oppose the privatization, seeing as it would bring an end to the many privileges that come as a result of the state ownership of companies. So – as the well known phrase goes: it’s not over till the fat lady sings. But let’s keep our fingers crossed: the successful privatization may be essential for Slovenia’s fast and efficient recovery.