It has always been my understanding that extending a deadline for binding bids to be received for a company that finds itself on the market generally means one thing: there has been insufficient interest from potential suitors or to uncloak that euphemism – no interested parties whatsoever have declared their hands.
Indeed, on hearing that such an extension has been announced by Aerodrom Ljubljana(Fraport) and Slovenian state-company PDP regarding the sale of their respective shareholdings in Adria Airways Tehnika, I was therefore surprised to learn that the original deadline of March 20th has been elongated until the end of the month to actually accommodate the unanticipated levels of interest in AAT, a company with a complicated history for those living in Slovenia to understand, let alone for pundits observing from afar.
Despite retaining the Adria Airways as part of its epithet AAT isn’t directly owned by Slovenia’s flag-carrier but with 52.3% of it being in the hands of the state-operated PDP, both Tehnika and Adria Airways in a somewhat convoluted arrangement have the same majority shareholder, with AA being one the ‘gang of fifteen’ state-run concerns slated for privatisation by the incumbent administration. With Fraport, the new owners of the Brnik-based Ljubljana Airport also holding in excess of 47% of AAT’s shares, the situation does though somewhat differ from that wholly state-owned Adria Airways. When assuming control of Ljubljana Airport I assume Fraport had no intention of acquiring the state’s shares in AAT although, it is interesting to note that their fellow countrymen at Express Airways are one of two companies to so far confirm their interest in AAT, the other being Lithuanian-based Avia Solutions. With a week remaining for the receipt of binding bids it is though anticipated that concrete-interest from elsewhere will be forthcoming.
Much of the confusion surrounding AAT inevitably centres upon the retention of Adria Airways within its business title. A certain cachet is perhaps attached to keeping it although whether the future owners of Adria Airways will object, I couldn’t say. Whilst there was a time when both AAT and AA were inextricably linked, that is no longer the case. Despite the at times labyrinthine corporate entanglements in Slovenia there is though a major ongoing change in the country’s aviation sector, the importance of its geographically strategic position in Europe and the not mutually exclusive issue of the nation’s tourism sector needing a reboot potentially heralding an exciting new era, especially if unprecedented levels of joined-up thinking are ushered in.
Fraport have exciting plans for Ljubljana Airport’s infrastructure and are expected to add further routes to its timetable. The acquisition by Delavska hranilnica of Maribor’s airport is though perhaps the most intriguing development, last week confirming Adria Airways’ return to Slovenia’s second-city after a fifteen year absence. Already proving to be a popular move with those in the country alarmed at Slovenian assets falling into foreign ownership, the trade-union backed savings bank have bucked the prevailing trend by proving the requisite capital and knowledge still exists in Slovenia, despite many high-profile cases suggesting the contrary. It is expected that the June-September Maribor to London(Southend) route will be the first of several, staggered announcements from an airport seemingly ideally placed to become a low-cost hub.
The ongoing saga surrounding the privatisation of Adria Airways and indeed Tehnika help to make up a quartet of ‘live’ stories from Slovenia’s aviation sector; this from a country of such a small-size is surely unprecedented but again emphasises what a unique and at times complex nation modern-day Slovenia has become.
Further reading on this subject can be viewed at: South East Europe News: Deadline extended for Tehnika binding bids