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Dnevnik: Merkur Takeover End of an Era

Ljubljana, 07 May (STA) - The planned takeover by retailer Mercator of Merkur's chain of technical goods shops, and speculation that the home entertainment division BigBang might by sold, perhaps to Austria's Saturn, is the symbolic end of an era of management buyouts, Dnevnik says in Friday's commentary.

It is clear that the three biggest buyouts undertaken during the 2004-2008 government of Janez Jansa have burnt to the ground, Dnevnik says, referring to the failed MBOs of beverage group Pivovarna Lasko by former boss Bosko Srot and the attempt of Igor Bavcar to take control of Istrabenz.

The ownership merry-go-round is ready for a new round. Whereas the first phase of privatisation was determined by the state, the state is now on the defensive. The game is in the hands of major domestic and foreign banks which, thanks to Mercator (of which banks own a third), will emerge from the Merkur adventure they were involved in without major consequences.

But even though the "tycoon" elite has fallen from grace, Slovenian corporate giants are facing hard times: burdened by debt, they have remained in the hands either of the state, which has neither the money nor the will to invest in development, or banks, which are more interested in selling fast and earning dividends than they are in development, Dnevnik concludes in "From Merkur to Saturn".

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