Slovenian talks with EC officials hint at attempt to extend deadline for NLB privatisation

Slovenian talks with EC officials hint at attempt to extend deadline for NLB privatisation
By bne IntelliNews September 19, 2016

Slovenia’s interim Finance Minister Alenka Smerkolj discussed the privatisation of Nova Ljubljanska Banka (NLB) with European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager during a recent visit to Brussels, Prime Minister Miro Cerar confirmed on September 16. 

While Cerar says Ljubljana will adhere to its commitments to the European Commission on the privatisation of its largest state-owned lender NLB, it appears that the government could be trying to obtain an extension to the end-2017 deadline to privatise the bank. 

Slovenia is “honouring its commitments” on the privatisation of NLB and the interests of Slovenian taxpayers will have to be taken into consideration in the process, Cerar said on the sidelines of the EU summit in Bratislava, Slovenian Press Agency (STA) reported.

"We are not lobbying whatsoever, we are simply fulfilling our commitments," Cerar said.

He said that the current circumstances as well as the future situation needed to be taken into account and that Slovenia needed to be in permanent contact with the European Commission.

At their recent meeting, Smerkolj briefed Vestager on the progress Slovenia had made towards its commitments to the competition directorate in various procedures. They also touched on certain legal issues in the NLB sale process, STA quoted the finance ministry as saying.

In the restructuring plan that served as a basis for the European Commission's approval of state aid to the bank in 2013, Slovenia committed to sell NLB by the end of 2017. Any potential extension of that date would have to be endorsed by Brussels.

Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH) initially announced that NLB’s privatisation would be launched in 2016, but earlier this month it indicated that no decision would be made until early 2017. SSH, which manages Slovenian state owned assets, said the bank was due to be sold off by the end of next year. 

SSH said on May 12 that an initial public offering had been assessed as the most appropriate method for the privatisation of NLB. The state is expected to keep 25% plus one share in the bank.

 

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