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Authorities Say Privatisation to Continue as Planned

Ljubljana, 07 May (STA) - The institutions in charge rushed to appease concerns on Wednesday that the political deadlock following the resignation of Prime Minister Alenka Bratušek could put a hold on the planned privatisations, underscoring that the projects endorsed were running as planned.

"All sales procedures are running unhindered, in accordance with the timetable and in compliance with the National Assembly's resolution to sell 15 companies," the STA was told by the Restitution Fund (SOD), which will be transformed into the Slovenia Sovereign Holding (SSH) as the single state asset manager.

Similar assurances came from Economy Minister Metod Dragonja. "Projects that have been endorsed by the National Assembly can continue," he said, adding that the legal framework for the planned privatisations was available. "There will be always someone who can stop that but the SSH has full authority to wrap up the process."

The first batch of privatisations, which parliament endorsed in June 2013, includes telecoms incumbent Telekom Slovenije, bank NKBM, flag carrier Adria Airways, aircraft maintenance firm Adria Airways Tehnika, airport operator Aerodrom Ljubljana and sports goods manufacturer Elan.

The list of 15 companies to be privatised also comprises adhesive products maker Aero, chemicals processing company Cinkarna Celje, Ljubljana fairgrounds operator Gospodarsko razstavišče, tissue maker Paloma, spa operator Terme Olimia Bazenih, tools maker Unior and bread and pasta company Žito.

Meanwhile, two of the companies from the list, laser maker Fotona and coatings maker Helios, have already been sold to a US and Austrian investor, respectively.

Calls for bids have been published for Gospodarsko razstavišče and Adria Airways Tehnika, talks are underway with investors who have placed binding bids for Elan, while the deadline for expressions of interest has recently expired in the case of Telekom.

Sales procedures with selection of advisers or sale commissions are also under way at Aerodrom, Cinkarna, Paloma and Žito.

Due to the political crisis in the country, with uncertainty when a snap election will be held, calls have been addressed to the country mainly from abroad that it must continue with privatisations without delay.

Under the SSH act, which came into effect on 25 April, the government needs to draw up a strategy of state asset management and submit it to parliament for adoption within three months.

The Finance Ministry had planned to have the strategy ready sooner, but Bratušek's resignation threw the procedures into question.

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