Business News

Restructuring Model for Rail Operator to Be Known in May

Ljubljana, 13 April (STA) - Prime Minister Borut Pahor said after a visit to rail operator Slovenske zeleznice Tuesday that social partners in the company should find common ground on the future structure of the debt-ridden company by May. Transport Minister Patrick Vlacic added that the restructuring model would be known next month.

Vlacic said he would propose an effective system compliant with EU rules. Decisions on the future structure of the company will be made in the first half of next month and until then the management will draft strategic guidelines, Vlacic said.

Pahor added that measures had to be taken immediately. "Slovenske zeleznice is on the operating table. We have the opportunity to save it but we need speed, determination, transparency, and understanding from politicians and experts."

Views on the future structure differ, as general manager Goran Brankovic advocates a holding company, while the works council director, Albert Pavlic, supports the single-company option.

But Pahor is not concerned with differences and excepts that the views will be brought closer by his next visit in May. "The system must be structured so as to lead to results we are all expecting," he added.

The prime minister would also like to know the opinion on the future structure of the company from former Deutsche Bahn boss Hartmut Mehdorn, who is a potential adviser in the restructuring process. He said he would meet Medhorn this month.

"[Mehdorn] is ready to listen and ask questions, which would allow him and us to agree on a formal meeting soon after the decision on potential cooperation is made," Pahor explained.

Slovenske zeleznice recently adopted the 2010 business plan projecting a EUR 30.3m loss this year, with operating revenues at EUR 354.4m and operating loss reaching EUR 20m.

Chief supervisor Andrej Godec noted that the company and the state as the owner still had to launch its biggest infrastructure project - the construction of a second rail line between the port city of Koper and the railway hub Divaca, worth an estimated EUR 800m.

According to him, the line will be constructed in two phases. Project documentation will be ready by the beginning of June, and works are expected to begin by November.

Pahor is paying monthly visits to Slovenske zeleznice and this was his sixth meeting with the management.

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