Slovenia aims for Elan sale by end-2014

LJUBLJANA (Slovenia), September 10 - Slovenia has informed the European Commission that majority state-owned sports goods manufacturer Elan could be sold by the end of the year, putting it in a position to repay capital injections it has received in breach of EU competition rules, the country's finance ministry said on Wednesday.

The Commission concluded in September 2012 that capital injections worth 10 million euro ($13.3 million) granted to Elan constituted state aid, which was incompatible with EU rules and asked the Slovenian authorities to recover it.

It should be clear by the end of October whether the sale, currently being negotiated with prospective investors, will succeed, the press office of the ministry said in an email.

The potential investors have mostly conducted due diligence at Elan and the transaction could realistically be completed by the end of 2014 and the recovery of illegally received state aid could then be ensured, the ministry further said.

Last month, Commission spokesperson Ryan Heath told SeeNews the Slovenian government is hoping that the privatization of the company would allow Elan to get the funds necessary to repay the aid. "The Commission has taken note of this and asked Slovenia to make sure that the sale process would itself not involve any new state aid, that it would be completed in a reasonable timeframe and that it would ensure effective recovery of the incompatible aid granted in the past," he said at the time.

Elan Group, based in Begunje na Gorenjskem, is active in winter sporting goods, energy, marine equipment and services. It is among the major state enterprises slated by the government in Ljubljana for privatization.

Elan's winter division makes skis and snowboards, the marine division manufactures sail yachts and power boats while the energy division produces key components for wind turbines. Elan Inventa is the company's services brand for sports facility equipment. All of Elan’s production facilities are located in central Europe. Skis and sail yachts are produced in Slovenia and snowboards in Austria.

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