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Slovenian reporter Slovenian reporter
by Euro Reporter
2012-10-30 09:45:02
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Slovenia's largest fuel retailer Petrol said its estimated group net profit in the first nine months had risen by 16 percent to 41.9 million Euros despite tough economic conditions in its main markets, Slovenia and Croatia.

Sales were up 18 percent to 2.8 billon Euros, it said in a statement on Thursday but did not elaborate further. Earlier this month, the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development predicted the economies of Croatia, Slovenia and Hungary, already hard hit by the crisis in the euro zone, will contract this year.

Petrol operates 461 filling stations in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo. Slovenia's daily Finance reported on Thursday that Petrol might issue a 30-50 million euro bond with a 3-5 year maturity in next two months to refinance its short-term obligations. Petrol did not want to comment on the report. The company is due to release final nine-month business results on November 23.


Slovenia adopts reform laws but referendums possible

The Slovenian parliament on Tuesday passed reform laws on banking and management of state firms that the government says are crucial to ensuring financial stability in the country which is struggling to avoid a bailout.
But Slovenia's powerful trade unions are threatening to force a referendum on both laws, saying they could lead to a sell-off of state assets. The first law would enable the establishment of a state company to take over bad debts of state-owned banks in exchange for state-guaranteed bonds, as a means of easing the credit crunch. Slovenian banks, mostly state-owned, are nursing about 6.5 billion Euros of bad loans, amounting to some 18 percent of GDP. The parliament late on Tuesday also voted for the creation of a new state holding that would manage all state firms and speed up privatization.

The Slovenian economy is driven by exports of cars, household appliances and pharmaceutical products. It was badly hit by the global financial crisis and is now struggling with a new recession after a mild recovery in 2010 and 2011. "The two laws passed today are an important part of structural reforms that are needed in Slovenia ... and any referendum on them would deepen the uncertainty in the country," said Luka Flere of investment firm KD Skladi. But trade unions opposing the reforms have said they would seek to trigger referendums, which under Slovenian law can be called by anyone who collects 40,000 signatures. Such a petition could easily be achieved by the unions, which are represented in most Slovenian workplaces.

Finance Minister Janez Sustersic said the government would continue talks with the unions in the hope of avoiding referendums that could delay or scupper reforms. Last year a number of laws proposed by the previous centre-left government were rejected at referendums, among them a crucial pension reform, which resulted in the fall of the government and a snap election that brought the conservative administration of Prime Minister Janez Jansa to power. Last week Slovenia issued its first sovereign bond this year, a 10-year $2.25 billion bond at the yield of 5.7 percent. A similar issue in Euros was postponed in April because of low demand. Jansa told parliament on Monday the country would not be able to issue any more bonds in the future unless it passed reforms that would boost its credibility on the financial markets.


Slovenia PM says can't borrow further without fast reforms

Slovenia will only be able to issue new bonds and service its debt in 2013 if it enforces reforms, including raising the retirement age, by the end of this year, Prime Minister Janez Jansa told parliament on Monday. He said the country - which has so far avoided joining other vulnerable euro zone economies in seeking a bailout - would need to take on new debt of 1 billion Euros ($1.30 billion) per year in 2013 and 2014 just to finance the budget deficit. "It is crucial for Slovenia that reforms are enforced by the end of this year ... to ensure normal repayment of our debts and normal functioning of the public finances," Jansa told parliament when presenting draft budgets for 2013 and 2014. 

Jansa's conservative government plans to cut the budget gap to below 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013 from some 4.2 percent this year and reduce it further in 2014 by cutting public sector spending and increasing taxes, including on banks, the media, students and communal services. Last week Slovenia raised $2.25 billion through a 10-year bond at a yield of 5.7 percent, which analysts said would enable the country to avoid an international bailout for about six months. But Jansa said Slovenia would not be able to issue more bonds next year unless it adopted the pension reform, made it easier to hire and fire employees, resolved the issue of bad loans in state banks, improved the management of state-owned firms and sped up privatization.

Slovenian banks, mostly state-owned, nurse some 6.5 billion Euros of bad loans, which amounts to about 18 percent of GDP. The government plans to form a new state company that will take over bad loans of state banks in exchange for state-guaranteed bonds and ease the country's credit crunch. It is also determined to form a new state holding that will manage all state assets and speed up privatization. However, trade unions are threatening to enforce referendums on both laws which would delay or prevent their enforcement. The government still hopes to reach an agreement with trade unions to avert referendums. Last year similar pension and labour reforms were rejected at referendums demanded by trade and students' unions. The previous centre-left government fell and a snap election brought to power Jansa's conservative government.

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