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Cooperatives Interested in Majority Stake in Ljubljana Dairy

Koper, 02 February (STA) - Head of the Cooperatives Association Peter Vrisk believes that from the strategic point of view, cooperatives are the most realistic buyer of a 51% stake in Ljubljanske mlekarne which a consortium of owners of Slovenia's biggest dairy put on sale in December.

Speaking at a meeting of Slovenian cooperatives in Koper on Tuesday, Vrisk said that negotiations on the acquisition of the stake were being carried out and that the result would be known in the coming weeks.

It was reported in December that investment firms NFD Holding, Zvon Ena, Zvon Dva Holding, KD ID and KD Kapital were willing to sell the stake at EUR 14 per share, which is more than EUR 30m.

"Ljubljanske mlekarne is a national interest," Vrisk said, adding that the best solution in the long run would be that an agreement is reached with the consortium. He however believes that the price of EUR 14 per share is too high.

The sellers are in deep financial trouble, so the question is how long they will be able to sustain the pressure from creditors, Vrisk said when asked whether the owners were ready to lower the price.

The dairy would be prosperous in the hands of cooperatives, he said, adding that it could happen that a potential foreign owner starts importing cheaper milk and stops purchasing milk from Slovenian producers.

While cooperatives hold a 33% stake in Ljubljanske mlekarne, cooperatives and farmers own majority stakes in all other Slovenian dairies. This situation guarantees jobs in farms and has to be maintained in the future, Vrisk said.

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