The Municipality of Bovec through paying an initial surety of €50,000 have secured the stricken circular cableway that formally serviced the Slovenian side of Mount Kanin and, the Prestreljenik mountain restaurant atop the aforementioned peak. The residue of the €112,000 required to formally bring the infrastructure into public-ownership will be paid as per a now agreed timescale.

Bovec has acquired these assets thanks to the execution of a little known Slovenian law that allows distressed assets to pass into municipal hands, should repeated attempts to dispose of estate property through auctions and/or Dutch auctions fail. The remaining assets though are still subject to a closed tender process, with creditors – HIT Nova Gorica & Heta – of the now defunct former operator ATC Kanin unable to reach consensus regarding their exact share and in effect, how any money from a theoretical sale would be apportioned. Intriguingly, an offer of €123,000 from Russian-based Ilev Engineering has been received for the outstanding infrastructure, which firmly puts the onus upon HIT and Heta to resolve their differences, should of course they deem a bid of this value to be sufficient. This though might be the only way either creditor receives any money for their disputed shareholding; a refusal to entertain this offer would then open the door for Bovec’s Municipality to acquire the remaining lift system and associated apparatus for a nominal surety, presumably to cover guarantees of future operation and fees pertaining to the sale process rendered by the official receiver. I assume guarantees will also have to be made to insulate creditors from Bovec flipping the sale for a quick profit although such a scenario would appear unlikely, considering interest in the ailing infrastructure has previously been minimal to nonexistent.

The process of either selling to Ilev or for the remaining estate to revert to public-ownership does though need to be expedited, if only to ensure lift operations on the Slovenian side of Kanin are viable for the 2015/16 winter season. Despite approaching the end of April the timescale for full renovation of the pillars, cableway and the carriages is relatively short, with lengthy periods of testing necessary to assuage lingering doubts of the lift being safe for the general public. It is clear Bovec’s Municipality cannot run a cable-car without acquiring the final pieces of the jigsaw but might find themselves needing to make Ilev an offer, should the Russian concern be successful in its acquisition of the remaining property. This might be Ilev’s intention, to make a quick profit but equally, they might also be hoping to relieve Bovec of the circular cableway and Prestrejenik restaurant the local authority appropriated on de facto free of charge terms. Whilst much conjecture surrounds the mechanics of the deal that has already taken place, it is again assumed the Bovec cannot sell on an asset they acquired for a nominal amount until a certain period of time has elapsed. There is no doubt that by both Bovec and Ilev Engineering potentially owning portions of the lift apparatus that neither party can proceed without the other. Should their differences be resolved HIT Nova Gorica and Heta ultimately hold the balance of power – a failure to agree to Ilev’s offer will see both creditors leave with nothing. With €3 million of state-funding on the table for Bovec to renovate the derelict device assuming the agreed criteria is met, a golden opportunity for the resort offering the highest skiing in Slovenia could be lost, should a successful and swift conclusion to proceedings not be forthcoming.

Bovec hasn’t had an operational ski season for several years, since the near catastrophic event of several carriages plummeting to the ground for reasons still unconfirmed. Whilst a freak spell of high winds were initially thought to have grounded the cableway the Slovenian Meteorological Society deny such conditions occurred in Slovenia’s northwest at the time of the incident. With confidence in the device understandably undermined the lift has since remained dormant and as a result, it and the associated infrastructure have become inoperable due to a lack of routine, ongoing maintenance to combat the vagaries of alpine weather. As a resort Bovec has since suffered greatly, seeing a marked drop in tourist numbers with many guests being bussed on a daily basis the thirty minute journey to Kanin’s Italian side at Sella Nevea. It is clear that Bovec cannot continue like this, with both its summer and winter markets heavily reliant on a fully functioning lift.

Further reading on this subject can be viewed at:

Delo: Russian company offers €123,000 for Bovec ski infrastructure

Delo: Bovec officially assumes control of circular cableway and mountain restaurant