A staple of many journeys I undertook throughout Slovenia’s northwestern province of Gorenjska, the Alpetour travel company remains to this day a reassuring and reliable presence for tourists and residents alike. It will then come as a concern to many of details emerging from Germany that Arriva Dolenjska, a subsidiary of the Deutsche Bahn-owned Arriva Europe GmbH have signed a memorandum of understanding to in principle acquire the majority shareholding of Alpetour, subject to market competition legislation in both Germany and Slovenia being satisfied.

Of the consortium selling the 59.21% stake in Alpetour, the position of Banka Celje seems instrumental in a sale likely thrust upon them as part of its restructuring through significant recapitalisation from the state. It would therefore seem probable that Banka Celje are under pressure to divest itself of viable assets contained within its portfolio, especially after its merger with Abanka Vipa stipulating the bank’s future remit being restricted to its core business within Slovenia.

What then does all this mean for Alpetour? Assuming anti-trust laws in both countries are adhered to a full-scale takeover by Arriva cannot be ruled out. Whilst foreign investors cannot acquire in excess of 49% of Slovenian companies, crucially, this only applies to venture capitalists based outside the European Union, in theory leaving the road clear for the German-based Arriva to purchase the remaining near 41% at a later date. This would appear to be good business for the selling consortium, an offer of €55 per share valuing Alpetour ten percent higher than its ‘on paper’ value listed at the Ljubljana Stock Exchange. This undoubtedly displays strong confidence in Alpetour from Arriva. Should the acquisition be formally rubber-stamped, it will then be interesting to see what plans Arriva has in store for yet another household Slovenian name slated for regime change.

Further reading on this issue can be viewed at:

The Slovenia Times: Alpetour wanted by Arriva

European Commission press-release: Banka Celje state-aid and restructuring plan