Tomislav Karamarko, premijer Orešković i Božo Petrov.jpg
Photograph: HINA / Lana SLIVAR DOMINIĆ / mm

The Croatian government has decided to erase eight companies from the list of enterprises regarded to be of strategic and special interest for the country and those are: Podravka, ACI, Koncar-Elektroindustrija, Petrokemija, Croatia Airlines, Luka Rijeka (Port of Rijeka), the Croatia bank and the Croatia Osiguranje insurer.

The decision on removing those enterprises from the said list and preparing them for possible privatisation was made at the government's conference call on Wednesday, according to a press release issued by the cabinet of Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic.

According to an explanation provided in the press release, the National Reforms Programme for 2016  envisages that one of reform-oriented measures will be to streamline the management over state assets and re-evaluate property defined as strategic as well as to downsize the state-run portfolio of companies with the aim of narrowing the budget gap and reducing the public debt in parallel to efforts to improve Croatia's credit rating.

As for the said companies, the state's interest in the ACI marina operator is 79%, and the government has almost 99% interest in the Croatian Airlines. The state share in the Port of Rijeka stock is 33%, while the "Croatia" lender is totally owned by the government, and the government's portion in the Kutina-based Petrokemija artificial fertilisers producer stands at 80%, Koncar Elektroindustrija, 50%, and Podravka 25%.

After a package with a majority shares in the CO insurer was sold to the Adris group, the state holds some 30% in that insurance company.

Explaining the latest developments, Finance Minister Zdravko Maric told Hina on Wednesday that this decision was in line with the government's plan to ensure 1.6 billion kuna for the budget from the activation of state property until the end of this year.

"We imply nothing by this decision," Maric said on the phone.

"We simply want to make an overview of the existing list of enterprises of strategic and special interest for Croatia and possibly make some corrections," said Maric, who was attending an annual gathering of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London.

The findings of expert consultations conducted by the government and the finance ministry also indicate that the above-mentioned eight companies are not companies whose shares should be managed by the State Property Management Office (DUUDI), according to the explanation of the government's decision.

 The decision also indicates that the sale of companies found to be of no strategic interests might start upon the fulfilment of prerequisites through amending the pertaining legislation, and a deadline is June 2016 onward.

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