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EBRD Returns to Slovenia with New Strategy

London, 26 February (STA) - The board of directors of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) adopted Wednesday a new four-year strategy for Slovenia, marking the start of a more active role for the bank in the country just weeks after it reopened its Slovenia office after an eight-year absence.

The bank will focus on three priorities: corporate sector restructuring, including expanding the role of the private sector and promoting good corporate governance; financial sector stabilisation; and support for sustainable energy.

The goal of the 2014-2017 strategy, which was created in close cooperation with the Slovenian authorities, is to recognise where Slovenia has achieved headway and define areas where the EBRD can play a role, the bank told the STA.

The bank said it was stepping up its activity at the request of the government but rejected recent opinions that its return proved Slovenia had regressed economically.

Some commentators in recent weeks suggested the EBRD is returning to facilitate privatisation, which the bank itself confirmed by saying in a press release today that it will "participate in the privatisation of key enterprises currently under state control either through debt or equity financing."

In the financial sector it plans to "support the privatisation of state-controlled banks" as well as "support healthy banks" with funding for the real sector.

The bank will furthermore "explore energy efficiency investment opportunities" and "actively seek opportunities to identify and finance investments that would increase the capacity to generate renewable energy."

The EBRD, which has been active in Slovenia since 1993, has so far signed a total of 68 projects here with a net cumulative business volume of EUR 789m.

About a third each of the EBRD's investments have been in the corporate sector and financial institutions, a fifth in the energy sector and 13% in infrastructure.

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