UPDATE 2-Slovenian MPs approve sale of 15 state firms

Fri Jun 21, 2013 8:52am EDT

* The sale could yield up to 1 bln euros

* Telekom Slovenia, bank Nova KBM on the list (Adds analyst quote, details, background)

By Marja Novak

LJUBLJANA, June 21 (Reuters) - Slovenian lawmakers approved government plans on Friday to sell 15 state companies as part of the country's efforts to cut the budget deficit and avoid becoming the latest euro zone member to need an international bailout.

The companies include Slovenia's largest telecom operator, Telekom Slovenia, its second-biggest bank, Nova KBM , national airline Adria Airways and Ljubljana airport.

"We have to tackle this privatisation with a high degree of professionalism ... as Slovenia does not have a lot of credibility in this area, since many privatisation processes in the past have not been completed," Finance Minister Uros Cufer told parliament before the vote.

Analysts estimate Slovenia could get some 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) at most from the sale of the 15 firms. Most of that sum should come from Telekom, which has a market capitalisation of 700 million euros on Ljubljana's tiny stock market and is 75-percent owned by the state and its firms.

"This is a positive signal to the markets ... although there will be a very limited investor interest in some companies on the list," said Andraz Grahek, a managing partner at Capital Genetics consultancy.

"Luckily, the list includes Telekom, which will probably account for most of the proceeds from the sale," he added.

Grahek said paint and varnish producer Helios could be one of the first to go as its sale process already started last year. State-owned firms have about 65 percent in Helios and the sale is expected to yield some 200 million euros, according to the local media.

The government has said the sale of most other firms on the list will start in September.

Slovenia is the only ex-communist state which refused to sell most of its banks and insurers and a number of other large firms. As a result, the state has kept control over some 50 percent of the economy, which has led to cronyism and corruption.

The country was badly hit by the global crisis due to its dependency on exports and the government's macroeconomic institute said on Thursday recession would extend into 2014, mainly because of budget cuts.

The government hopes to cut the budget deficit to the EU-approved maximum of 3 percent of GDP in 2015 from 7.9 percent expected this year. This year's budget will be burdened by the state aid for local banks, which have accumulated 7 billion euros in bad loans. ($1 = 0.7590 euros) (Reporting By Marja Novak; Editing by Zoran Radosavljevic and Patrick Graham, Ron Askew)