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AmCham Warns Privatisation Delays Could Scare Off Investors

Ljubljana, 22 August (STA) - The US chamber of commerce in Slovenia (AmCham) urged the incoming government Friday to take "decisive action in the privatisation of state assets" or risk scaring investors away.

Slovenia has to "stop fancying that there is a long line of investors waiting". If delays with privatisation procedures continue, "we should not be surprised if potential investors start wavering or reducing prices."

The chamber highlighted what it said were three "extraordinarily important" privatisation procedures: Telekom Slovenije, airport operator Aerodrom Ljubljana and NKBM bank, noting that they attracted significant investor interest.

But it noted there have been "unreasonable demands" to make all transaction condition public. "Public disclosure of too much information weakens competition among bidders and prevents the state from maximising proceeds".

The statement comes after the latest draft of the coalition agreement written by the Party of Miro Cerar (SMC) suggests the government would pursue a very conservative privatisation policy.

The previous version said privatisation would be "managed and strategically analysed" on a case-by-case basis. The new draft says the process will continue only if privatisation "preserves jobs, creates new jobs and ensures the growth of privatised companies".

Despite statements by Prime Minister-designate Miro Cerar against privatisation, at least one ongoing privatisation procedure (Aerodrom Ljubljana) is believed to be just days or weeks from completion.

The privatisation of Telekom Slovenije, the most valuable company slated for privatisation, could meanwhile get bogged down as the coalition agreement said telecoms networks should be decoupled from services, which would be disadvantageous to potential investors.

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