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NKBM Boss in Favour of Govt Plan for Bank's Privatisation

Maribor, 09 May (STA) - NKBM boss Aleš Hauc told the STA on Thursday that he supported the idea of privatisation of the country's second biggest bank, which was recently expressed by the government. He said that he had been arguing for a while that NKBM should reaffirm its ownership structure with private investors.

"We believe a private owner can lead the bank into better business results and motivate it to achieve satisfying profitability while leading a conservative investment policy," Hauc said.

He added though that it was difficult to say what is the right time for sale.

The main responsibility that the bank currently has to potential investors is the implementation of measures for improving business operations, and showing a realistic picture of the current situation, the CEO said.

Since the new management took office, over thousand decisions have been made to improve the bank's operations. NKBM is now solvent, safe and stable, he noted.

Asked whether a capital increase planned for June could bring a reliable strategic owner, Hauc said that talks with potential investors were under way but that the outcome of these talks could not be foreseen.

He would also not reveal the amount of the planned capital injection, saying that the figure will be revealed on Friday, when the date of the shareholders' meeting will also be announced.

The Slovenian public is meanwhile divided on whether or not the state should sell its share in the bank which was recently increased to almost 80%.

Small shareholders do not oppose a "transparent sale", but they demand that their interests be safeguarded.

Unofficially, the coalition Social Democrats (SD) are reserved about the sale with former Finance Minister Franc Križanič warning that privatisation could entail layoffs, which could trigger a new social bomb in Maribor.

Hauc's response is that ownership per se does not determine the quality of management. It is crucial that the people in charge are competent, know the banking sector and the needs of the clients, and contribute to the development of the bank, he said.

Then it makes no difference if the private owner comes from Slovenia or from abroad, he added.

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