Slovenia puts up castles, airport for sale

Slovenia puts up castles, airport for sale

A typical Slovenian castle. Twenty similar castles are on sale in Slovenia.

Slovenia is up for sale. Desperate to come out of the financial crisis that struck the world in 2008, this tiny east European country offers everything – from heritage castles to airport – for sale, hoping to find prospective buyers from India.

The Slovenian prime minister who will visit India a week from now will bring a large business delegation to showcase the business and investment opportunity in Slovenia. The aim is to attract large Indian investment besides expanding the bilateral trade volume. “The policies are in place to attract Indian capital. We want Indian capital to come here,” Prime Minister Borut Pahor told a group of visiting Indian journalists last week.

Other officials echo the sentiment. “We would like to connect to new geographies in the export and import market and India is our target. We will talk to Indian banks and investment companies inviting them to Slovenia,” said Finance Minister Franc Krizanic.

Immediate priorities

The immediate priorities include a tie-up with Air India to bail out the Slovenian carrier Adria, Indian investment for building a new pier in the port of Kopper and luring Indian shipping business to use the port as a gateway to central Europe and selling of a host of Slovenian companies and real estate.

As many as 20 heritage castles are on sale, each with a price tag of between Rs 7 crore and 35 crore (between 1 million and 5 million Euro), which is as good as the cost of luxurious houses or pent houses in Mumbai, Delhi or Bangalore. “The selling list includes an airport (Maribor), an aviation company (Adria), 20 castles and many companies. We are also looking for investment in the power plants and the third terminal at the port of Kopper,” said Igor Plestenjak, the chief executive officer of the Public Agency of the Republic of Slovenia for Entrepreneurship and Foreign Investment.

There are many companies across Slovenia which are also on the selling list, which includes a firm producing ski equipment and a 70,000 sq mt Spa and mineral spring. Indian participation is also sought in almost every quarter to boost the sagging trade.

The trade volume between India and Slovenia stood at 247 million Euro in 2010 which is an increase of 15 per cent over 2009 trade. Slovenia imported goods worth 175 million Euro while exporting products worth 72 million Euro comprising high quality paper for currency notes among other items.

“At the moment only 4 per cent of our trade is with BRICS (Brazil-India-China-South Africa) nations. This has to change. One of the objectives of the prime minister’s visit is to engage in more B2B discussions with Indian companies,” said Darja Radic, the minister of economy.

Sops are on the table for big ticket investments. For big investments which will lead to job creation, the government will offer as much as 30 per cent of the investment as cash subsidy, said Krizanic.