A New Prime Minister

As the world recupperates from celebrating the victory of the Big O., a quick recap of recent event this side of the financial crisis.

Borut Pahor taking the oath of office (photo: Blaž Samec/Delo)

As of Friday, Borut Pahor is Slovenia’s new PM-designate. As expected, he won a vote of confidence with 59 votes out of 90. Only days before the final draft of coalition agreement was ratified by leaders of The Quartet, Borut Pahor (SD), Gregor Golobič (Zares), Karl Erjavec (DeSUS) and Katarina Kresal (LDS). Contrary to Pahor’s projections, the agreement did not include the division of portfolios, as Karl Erjavec continued to play hardball which in the end cost him dearly.

As you know, Erjavec demanded that he remain minister od defence, which Pahor rejected flat out, prompting Teflon Karl to walk out of negotiations. However, negotiations broke down yet again only days later, at which point DeSUS’s MPs came out of the closet, saying that they will support the government regardless of whether Erjavec is made a minsiter or not. By that time it was clear that leader of DeSUS suceeded in one of his two basic demands, that is that DeSUS holds a portfolio more than LDS, on account of it having more MPs that the party led by Katarina Kresal.

However, Erjavec seems to have overplayed his cards and crashed-and-burned in attempts of securing a high-profile portfoilo for himself. It is more or less a given that he would have achieved both goals had he struck a deal with Pahor upon resuming negotiations for the first time. It is quite possible that he would be able to secure himself the position of minister of internal affairs back then. However, fair’s fair and it should be noted that Erjavec did the right thing in steering his party away from ministry of labour and social affairs. Officially, no names are given as yet, but it seems that Erjavec will be made minister of Enviroment and Urban Planning. Taking the ministry of labour would be tantamout to political suicide, since the looming economic crisis will most likely hit the labour-intensive Slovenian economy pretty hard, resulting in surging unemployement and other social problems. The fact that DeSUS MPs (as a sidenote: it would be wise for the next minister of labour, upon taking office, to sit down and write two letters)

On the other hand, Pahor’s treatement of Erjavec shows that the new PM has the nerves to wait it out and doesn’t fall for provocations easily. I could be wrong, but it seems that what seems to have benn an all-round condescending attitude towards Borut Pahor even within the coalition has discipated at least temprorarily and if roumors of specific nominations are correct, the new PM seems to have managed to have the cake and eat it, mostly at the expense of Karl Erjavec personally. More on that tommorow, hopefully.

At the same time Boško Šrot of Laško re-entered the limelight, apparently seeking to cash in on the change in governement as well as on the economic crisis. As you might know, he and his dependant companies own as much as 48 percent of Mercator, the largest reatil chain in Slovenia. Šrot got hold of Mercator for a below-market price in exchange for ceeding control over Delo newspaper to Janez Janša and his SDS. He later double-crossed Janša who, in respoce, started his famed “war against tycoons”, the only real result being that Šrot, his Laško Brewery and Mercator are being investigated for alleged cartel agreements.

Now, Šrot is “threatening” to sell his 48% percent stake in Mercator if the government agencies do not back off and hinted that he would be willing to sell it back to the state. Hopefully the new PM will not fall for the same trick his predecessor did and will not finance Šrot’s MBO of Laško by buying back Mercator at a markup price. Pengovsky smells an out-and-out foul play here, but more on that in a couple of days as we get back on track.

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

7 thoughts on “A New Prime Minister”

  1. Not really, because it wasn’t sold on an open market. Had so much stock been bought on LJSE, it would send the price skyhigh, forcing Laško to fork out a heluva lot more money in the end.

    However. Laško not only bought Mercator stock, but performed a takeover with a little help of Istrabenz, who bought 18 % of Mercator stock in the same deal, only to sell it to Laško months later, completing the circle.

    Two key elements are missing:
    1. transpareny of the deal on the government side (there was no tender)
    2. a formal takeover bid by Laško (and Istrabenz), clearly stating their interests.

    Without those two elements you cannot in all seriousness claim that the price at which Mercator was sold was the actual market price (an equilibrium between asking and bidding price).

  2. Listen, I know the details. I agree that the whole thing should have been done differently. However, the market price was whatever it was at the time. You may say that it was not sold to the highest bidder, however saying that it was sold below the market price is incorrect. And the reason it was not sold to the highest bidder is the famous “national interest”.

    Besides, Mercator was sold in 2005 for about 38000 slovenian tolars/share, that is about 158 EUR/share. Today the price is 196.8 EUR/share and dropping like a stone (only 7% annual gain). Pretty soon the 2005 sale might look like the best decision ever.

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