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UPDATE 1-Slovenia plans to start privatising about 20 firms in 2016

Thu 3rd December, 2015 12:16pm
(Adds details, quote, background) 
    By Marja Novak 
    LJUBLJANA, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Nova Ljubljanska Banka (NLB), 
Slovenia's largest bank, is the biggest of about 20 companies 
that the country plans to start privatising next year, state 
investment firm Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SDH) said on 
Thursday. 
    Slovenia has been reluctant to sell the main state firms and 
the government still controls about 50 percent of the economy. 
The centre-left coalition wants to pursue privatisations but 
retain ownership of strategicaly important businesses.    
    The previous government earmarked 15 firms for sell-off in 
2013 when the country was struggling to avoid an international 
bailout. Seven of those firms have been sold so far. 
    SDH, in charge of managing state capital assets, also plans 
to significantly increase return on equity of state firms to 
about 8 percent in 2020 from just over one percent at present. 
    It plans to do this by improving management and also 
restructuring businesses. 
    "Our key goal is to increase return on equity (of state 
firms), successfully pursue privatisation and attract more 
private capital into strategically important state companies," 
said SDH head Marko Jazbec who took over the role at the end of 
October. 
    NLB was rescued by the state in 2013. In exchange for the 
European Commission's approval of state aid to banks the 
government agreed to sell NLB by the end of 2017. 
    At present the government plans to sell 75 percent of NLB 
and retain a stake of 25 percent in the bank so as to keep a say 
in key business decisions. 
    Jazbec said he was in favour of "opening up other 
possibilities" of privatisation of NLB so as to achieve a 
maximum possible price.  
    Two years ago the government had to pour more than 3 billion 
euros ($3.2 billion) into local banks, which are mostly 
state-owned and were burdened by a large amount of bad loans. In 
this way the country also managed to avoid a bailout. 
    Jazbec said that the government is expected to confirm the 
annual privatisation plan by the end of this year. 
($1 = 0.9480 euros) 
 
 (Reporting by Marja Novak; Editing by Mark Potter and Keith 
Weir) 
 ((Marja.Novak@thomsonreuters.com; +386-1-5058805; Reuters 
Messaging: marja.novak.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) 
 
Keywords: SLOVENIA PRIVATISATION/
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