Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butkovic has launched a review of the operations and debts of the HAC motorway operator to launch as soon as possible the refinancing of the debts which cannot be serviced from regular business.

All that is aimed at stabilising business through self-sustainability and not sale, that is by monetising HAC's debt over a longer time, Butkovic has told Hina, adding that HAC's restructuring in the long term is also being considered.

HAC must service EUR 466 million in loan debts this year, including EUR 115 million in interest.

Our goal is to reschedule, in agreement with the World Bank, the existing loan debt because that is a real need, which will enable the necessary steps to stabilise HAC's business, Butkovic says.

At the beginning of the year, HAC needs EUR 9 million for interest on loans that need to be taken to refinance existing loan debts. The company also needs to contract EUR 390 million to refinance loan principals due in the April-December period. Another EUR 190 million is expected to be contracted by October to refinance debts.

The ARZ motorway operator is also in debt, with EUR 93.8 million due for the principal and interest this year, including EUR 8.2 million for January. Funds have been secured for the first quarter, while another loan is to be taken to repay the rest.

The first step is ARZ's financial consolidation through debt refinancing to provide for stable business, to be followed by restructuring, the final goal being financial self-sustainability, Butkovic says.

He reiterated the possibility of introducing vignettes, saying that aside from restructuring public road companies, the goal is to make road toll collection more efficient.

Speaking of the rail sector, Butkovic mentioned the construction of strategic infrastructure facilities to be co-financed from EU funds, including the Dugo Selo-Krizevci section, worth EUR 200 million, and the Krizevci-Koprivnica section, worth EUR 300 million. Plans also include upgrades of the Zagreb-Savski Marof section, co-financed with a World Bank loan, and of the Zapresic-Zabok section, worth EUR 82.3 million.

Butkovic says a decision on a possible privatisation of rail companies will be preceded by detailed analyses of their assets and liabilities.

As for Croatia Airlines (CA), he says its business needs to be stabilised before privatisation and that this can be done only by increasing competitiveness and the market position.

If CA's stabilisation is possible only through quality strategic partnership, that is privatisation, the primary goal or prerequisite is to bring a quality strategic partner, the minister says. Such a partner should have considerable experience in civil aviation, ensure further expansion and a higher market share, support the development of Croatia's tourism potential, participate in recapitalisation and renew the fleet, he adds.

Speaking of the most important road infrastructure investment projects, Butkovic highlights those for which funds have already been secured, primarily the Peljesac Bridge and its access roads, worth EUR 380 million, a new road in the Rijeka area worth EUR 65 million, a bridge across the Sava river connecting Croatia and Bosnia worth EUR 64 million, and ring road in the Opatija area worth EUR 65 million.

The minister also mentioned a new multimodal platform of the Solin-Stobrec-Dugi Rat-Omis agglomeration worth EUR 295 million, and the Veli Vrh-Pula airport project worth EUR 30 million.

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