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Slovenske Zeleznice Becomes Holding

Ljubljana, 01 September (STA) - Railway operator Slovenske zeleznice will become a holding with three core companies on Thursday in what is yet another attempt to get the company out of the red. The new company scheme that was laid down in the Slovenian railway company act from 2010 will take its final form on 1 January 2012.

Slovenske zeleznice will remain the parent company, while the main activities of the holding will be taken over by three new dependent companies: Infrastructure, Passenger Transport and Cargo Transport. The holding will also include four existing subsidiaries.

Slovenske zeleznice have already been organised as a holding between 2003 and 2007 following a referendum demanded by the in-house trade unions to prevent government's plans to privatise the company.

The rail operator wishes to break even this year, while in 2012 the company expects to climb back into the black. In the first half of 2011, the company generated EUR 1.9m in operating profit, while posting EUR 5.6m in net loss.

In 2010, the rail operator managed to halve the operating loss it generated in 2009 to EUR 10.9m, while net loss reached nearly EUR 20m.

Almost every government tried to find a model that would help the rail operator climb out of the red. Although the company was partly financially restructured in 2003 and 2004, it never managed to gain ground.

There were plans to find a strategic partner and the most recent plan from last year envisaged a national logistics holding that would combine Slovenske zeleznice, port operator Luka Koper and logistics company Intereuropa. The plan was however abandoned due to the companies's objections.

Slovenske zeleznice supervisors meanwhile appointed Ervin Pfeifer new general manager on Monday. The media reported yesterday that the government Capital Asset Management Agency (AUKN) launched a procedure to remove chief supervisor Igor Zajec, allegedly over the board's decision to appoint Pfeifer. AUKN's approval is also needed before Pfeifer can take over.

Unofficial sources say that AUKN is to discuss Pfeifer's appointment today but it would not voice its opinion, thus forcing the supervisory board to reconsider its decision. By that time, Slovenske zeleznice will however already have a new supervisory board, sources say.

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