Slovenia's ministry of economy announced on January 8 that the restructuring of private retailer Tus into a cooperative may be feasible, according to a preliminary study on the economic viability of the restructuring.
Slovenian Press Agency (STA) reported on January 8, that Tus had outstanding financial liabilities totalling €400mn, and that it recently concluded a loan restructuring agreement which could become effective this month.
The feasibility study looked into restructuring based on a bank loan restructuring agreement, bankruptcy or sale, or transformation into a cooperative.
However, the economy ministry’s study come after weeks of rumours that the government wanted to turn Tus into a cooperative co-owned by a mix of shoppers, suppliers and strategic partners. Media reports suggested that the overarching aim would be to keep Tus in Slovenian hands and as a key sales channel for Slovenian producers.
Three types of cooperatives were analysed: one owned by consumers, one by consumers and suppliers, and one featuring consumers, suppliers and strategic partners, STA reported.
"At least as far as the economic fundamentals go [a cooperative] is a strong enough prospect," economist Bogomir Kovac, one of the authors of the study, said at a press conference on January 8.
Slovenia’s economy minister Zdravko Pocivalsek said he was confident that banks would sign up for the transformation into a cooperative.
"We believe transformation is useful from the point of view of suppliers and in terms of sales," he said.
The minister was quick to point out that this was just a preliminary step and that the next step would be to undertake an in-depth economic study.
Tadej Slapnik, a state secretary at the prime minister's office in charge of social entrepreneurship, said the analysis assumed 150,000-200,000 consumers would join the cooperative, about a third of the number currently holding Tus loyalty cards.
He believes the process could be completed within 10 years, according to STA.
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