Business News

Bad Loans Cause Massive Loss at Lasko

Lasko, 31 March (STA) - Soured loans given to its former owners have caused beverage group Pivovarna Lasko to end the year with a loss of EUR 164.5m, down from a profit of EUR 3.8m in 2008.

The write-downs for loans given to Infond Holding and Center nalozbe amount to EUR 110.8m, while the group also registered impairments of EUR 35m associated with guarantees issued, according to unaudited results released by Pivovarna Lasko on Wednesday.

Infond Holding, which used to be the majority owner of Pivovarna Lasko, and its owner Center nalozbe declared insolvency as banks seized their stakes due to unpaid loans in 2009.

This also marked the replacement of former Pivovarna Lasko chairman Bosko Srot, who is widely believed to have built the chain of financial holdings in order to carry out a buyout of the group.

In addition to the financial problems, the Pivovarna Lasko group also saw a 9.2% drop in volume sales of beverages in 2009. Total sales stood at 4.553 million hectolitres, with net revenues totalling EUR 326m, which is 9.4% less than a year earlier.

The biggest drops were seen in the sale of mineral water and flavoured water.

The operating loss stood at EUR 6.1m, which includes a EUR 35.5m write-down caused by the impairment in value of its investment in newspaper publisher Delo.

The group said it covered EUR 93.9m of this year's loss with profit from previous years, while the remaining amount (EUR 65.3m) will be covered with other assets.

The group's short-term liabilities exceed short-term assets by EUR 253.6m. The management has said that it is in talks with the banks on extending loans whose maturity will pass soon.

If it fails to reach an agreement with the banks, it said it would begin to sell some of its long-term assets.

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