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Trimo to Seek Strategic Partner

Trebnje, 18 July (STA) - Trimo, the maker of prefabricated construction elements, plans to seek a strategic partner as part of plans to turn the company around. $The only realistic solution is to bring in a strategic partner. There is no doubt about that,$ CEO Tatjana Fink has told the STA in an interview.

The company is in the midst of talks with banks on a financial restructuring plan in a bid to roll over its EUR 63m debt, most of which is short term.

A financial plan drawn up at the request of the lenders in conjunction with consultancy PriceWaterhouseCoopers involves finding a strategic partner in the second stage of restructuring, according to Fink.

"The best partner for Trimo would be one that promotes development...There are potential partners in sight, but they need to share similar ambitions," according to Fink.

Trimo was on the verge of collapse following a standoff with banks over debt restructuring, but it recently conceded to the appointment of a procurator in exchange for banks agreeing to extend a standstill agreement on loan payment.

Klemen Boštjančič, a crisis manager best known for his stint at carrier Adria Airways and before that as chief supervisor of builder Vegrad, was named procurator, a special authorized representatives who can override management decisions.

Boštjančič, who joined Fink for the interview, said he was not at the company as an envoy of the banks but to work in the best interest of the company.

"The lenders extended the standstill agreement for the third time last week. It is in everyone's interest to forge a comprehensive financial restructuring agreement soon. I'm sure we'll have it by the end of September," he said.

Asked whether banks were keen on bringing in a strategic partner, Boštjančič said the banks were interested in the company's survival.

"As regards a strategic partner, the banks are also interested in having someone here who will pay off debt in the long term," he said.

The company's woes were seen by many as yet another management buyout gone wrong, with media pointing the finger at Fink for delaying the restructuring due to perceived personal interest.

But Fink insists Trimo's was not a typical management buyout. "Trimo never embarked on a management buyout. It was a workers' buyout and all employees had been invited," Fink said.

Fink said she owns 12.4% of the company that bought a majority stake in Trimo in 2006 and another 0.9% of Trimo stock directly.

"My direct and indirect share of 7.98%...I cannot block the resolution, as other shareholders own 92.02%," she said.

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