The process to uncouple Adria Airways Tehnika from the state seems to be entering its endgame, with the received binding bids for the Brnik-based aircraft maintenance company set to be assessed. An ideal scenario for both shareholders – the state-owned PDP and Fraport, the owner-operator of Aerodrom Ljubljana – would see the whole process concluded by the end of June.
Despite much of its appellation seemingly aligned to Slovenia’s flag-carrier Adria Airways, there is no longer any ownership link between the two separate business entities although, both find themselves at the forefront of Slovenia’s incumbent administration’s attempts to privatise fifteen of its state-owned companies, an undertaking heavily encouraged by the European Union in response to the country narrowly averting default junk status. Whether corruption can be decreased by the loosening of the state’s hegemonic grip on many key areas is one of the questions thrown up, as is the real worry from many of Slovenia’s residents of jobs and workplace entitlements being lost during an exercise to effectively shrink the state. There is also though the issue of the country losing its identity and, should vital sectors fall under the auspices of foreign ownership, national sovereignty and security could potentially be compromised.
I assume that much of Tehnika’s order-book is made up of the ongoing maintenance of Adria Airways’ fleet. The added complication though of the airline leasing rather than owning many of its aircraft would not necessarily see AAT being responsible for their upkeep; it very much depends on the terms of the lease agreements, a Wet Lease accord for instance would see the aircraft, crew and maintenance supplied entirely by the lessor. Crucially, the latest financial results posted by Tehnika for 2013 show a profit of just under €1 million but do not take into account the subsequent period where many of Adria’s planes were sold and leased back.
It is not beyond the realms of Fraport, the German-based owners of Aerodrom Ljubljana to increase their 46.7% holding of Tehnika and alleviate the state of its majority shareholding, controlled by restructuring company PDP. This would then allow Fraport to have complete control over events at Brnik but their ownership of Frankfurt Airport doesn’t suggest a desire to diversify its business portfolio into the aircraft maintenance sector. Fraport’s involvement at this stage purely seems to be centred upon the sale of their stake in AAT, something they acquired as part of the deal when purchasing Slovenia’s primary airport. It should also be remembered that state legislation prohibits foreign ownership of a business’s controlling interest, all but discounting Fraport increasing its holding in Adria Airways Tehnika. It isn’t though clear if this ruling can be circumnavigated by a foreign enterprise basing a subsidiary arm of its company in Slovenia to acquire more than 49% of a business. I wouldn’t therefore be surprised to see as part of the denationalisation process a few tweaks to statutes pertaining to foreign ownership although, it is hoped that Delavska hranilnica’s procurement of Maribor’s airport will buck the snowballing trend of Slovenia looking abroad for answers to its manifold financial problems.
Further reading on this matter can be found at: Slovenia Times: the sale of Adria Airways Tehnika a step closer