Slovenia Names Finance Chief to Extend Asset Sales, Cuts

  • Vranicar to conduct state asset sales, tighted finances
  • She’ll oversee sale of the nation’s biggest lender, NLB

Slovenia’s government appointed Mateja Vranicar Erman as finance minister, a role which will probably see her extend fiscal consolidation measures and oversee the sale of the nation’s biggest bank, Nova Ljubljanska Banka d.d.

Vranicar will replace Dusan Mramor, who unexpectedly stepped down last month for personal reasons, Prime Minister Miro Cerar told TV Slovenija, the national broadcaster, on Wednesday. Vranicar previously served as a junior minister overseeing the tax and duty system, along with the budget and public bookkeeping.

The new finance chief’s main challenge will be “to support the privatization course” and “deliver possibly a bit more fiscal consolidation than officially envisaged,” Gunter Deuber, head of research at Raiffeisen Bank International AG in Vienna, said before the nomination. “The fiscal consolidation will definitely be an uphill battle, while such a bureaucratic transition without much political noise is likely to be considered as positive by investors.”

The ~Finance Ministry’s attempts to shore up public finances and conduct asset sales helped lead to the end of the European Union’s monitoring of Slovenia’s budget in May, followed by a credit-rating upgrade and ensuing lower borrowing costs.

The yield on Slovenia’s benchmark bonds maturing in March 2026 rose 1 basis point to 0.76 percent on Thursday, near the lowest level since the notes were sold, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Vranicar will also oversee the sale of a new euro-denominated debt after Slovenia offered to buy back as much as $1 billion of its U.S. dollar-denominated notes Tuesday.

The new finance minister, who needs to be confirmed by lawmakers probably next week, will extend the measures undertaken by her predecessor such as the overhaul of the tax system and “careful” management of public finances, Vranicar told the STA newswire. The goals of the ministry have been pretty much been set by the government and Mramor, she said.

NLB bank must be sold by the end of next year as part of a commitment to the EU to dispose of lenders that received state aid. The initial public offering that was first planned for the autumn will probably start by year-end, Blaz Brodnjak, the bank’s chief executive officer, said in an interview with Slovenian Delo newspaper in July.

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