Boba Ing, the Slovenian-American company involved in a two-way fight for control of Elan have thrown down the gauntlet to its only tangible rival in the bidding process, the Czech-based winter-sports manufacturer, Sporten.
In theory at least the better fit to take on an incongruously thriving Elan, Sporten have at this stage of the process been outbid by Robert Antunovic’s Boba Ing, offering €5 million less than €15 million tabled by Antunovic. Complications though abound regarding the sale and very future of Elan, not in the least due to a state subsidy that turned out to be illegal needing to be repaid to the European Commission with immediacy although, the deadline for payment has recently been extended. The concern though must be that the EC will tire of waiting for an inordinately long period of time for repayment of the €12 million subsidy, a figure being added to daily as interest accrues. Plunging Elan into bankruptcy proceedings will surely not be in the EC’s best interests but nevertheless remains a very real option unless the situation is redressed to their satisfaction, with little further delay. It is to be assumed therefore that there will be no further stays of execution.
Robert Antunovic has stated a bankrupt Elan will see him walk away, wanting the Begunje based concern as it is found today. Sporten though see things differently, feeling that bankruptcy could make Elan a more attractive prospect for them, assuming the EU is classed as the only preferential creditor and therefore, the one debt that is assisted upon that Elan honour. This could see former CEO Uros Korze miss out on the €8 million of bonuses he is pursuing in the courts, as well as other creditors missing the boat. A sale to Antunovic will satisfy the Gorenjska Bank and Slovenian state Bank Assets Management Company and presumably secure jobs and expertise in the Gorenjska region, something Sporten were rumoured to be keen on relocating to the Czech Republic.
Should the Antunovic owned Boba Ing succeed in acquiring Elan it appears he wants to merge with Alpina, another famous Slovenian name and manufacturer of winter-sports apparatus and apparel. Union bosses will cautiously welcome this development, one that in effect consolidates employment and expertise rather than destabilising the workforce and region. Whether the Ziri based Alpina will see any of its operations diluted or sacrificed should Boba Ing take control of Elan, time will undoubtedly tell. It does though seem that the long-term future of Elan is soon to be decided, even if progress can only be described as glacial. There is though definitely a sense of there being a final sting in the tail, especially if the European Commission’s patience finally runs out.
Further reporting on this issue can be accessed at: The Slovenia Times: bidders vie for control of Elan