EBRD adopts new strategy for Slovenia

By Axel  Reiserer

More than five years after the EBRD closed its office in Ljubljana, the Board of Directors on 26 February 2014 adopted a new strategy for the Slovenia which provides for a strong engagement of the Bank in the country.

The document identifies the corporate sector, the financial sector and energy efficiency as the three priority areas for the Bank’s work in Slovenia in the period 2014-2017. While the Bank has never stopped investing in Slovenia even after the closing of its local office in 2008, the current economic circumstances necessitate an increased engagement in this advanced European economy.

Privatisation, restructuring and good governance are key areas of focus both in the corporate and the financial sectors. In the corporate sector the EBRD is prepared to support privatisation as well as the financial and operational restructuring of companies with sound businesses which are suffering in the current crisis. In addition, the bank will look into ways of supporting healthy enterprises that are seeking long-term investment financing for growth in Slovenia and the region.

In the financial sector, there has been progress with restructuring and handling of a portion of NPL through an asset management company, opening the way for the privatisation and or consolidation of banks, which the Bank may support. The EBRD is also prepared to extend finance to sound financial institutions for on-lending to the real economy.

An improvement of energy efficiency has the potential to lower the energy costs for many Slovene companies and strengthen their competitiveness. The EBRD is ready to draw on its extensive experience and expertise in this area to offer its support in this area too.

The implementation of the strategy will depend on whether the authorities will maintain their reform drive, creating the conditions for the country to overcome the current economic challenges. In this context the Bank is engaged in policy dialogue which has already produced concrete results like, for instance, an new insolvency law.

The EBRD will bolster its activities in Slovenia also by re-opening an office in Ljubljana (a temporary office is already operating). Jolanta Gabriel, senior banker, has been appointed Head of Office.

The new strategy for Slovenia has been met with strong interest by the local media.

In a series of interviews with the public broadcaster RTVSLO for TV and radio , the national news agency STA and the dailies Delo, Dnevnik and Finance EBRD Managing Director Jean-Marc Peterschmitt set out the strategy and the EBRD’s plans for the coming years.