UPDATE 1-Slovenian economy minister resigns

Wed Nov 20, 2013 3:34pm EST

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By Marja Novak

LJUBLJANA Nov 20 (Reuters) - Slovenia's Economy Minister Stanko Stepisnik resigned on Wednesday just as the country is seeking to avert an international bailout.

A government spokesman confirmed his resignation.

Local media said Stepisnik, a member of the centre-left party of Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek, quit after media reports that his tool-making company Emo Orodjarna had recently received state financial aid and was competing for more state help.

Stepisnik, who has a 40-percent stake in the firm, has said his company received the funding but that he has done nothing wrong.

Local media quoted him as saying: "These accusations ... are the reason that I'm resigning."

Stepisnik is the first minister to quit the government which took over in March after the previous centre-right cabinet of prime minister Janez Jansa collapsed amid a corruption scandal.

As the economy minister is not directly involved in formulating policy on managing the banking crisis, the resignation should not disrupt Slovenia's efforts to cope with what external stress tests reveal next month about the scale of the bad loans encumbering the country's banks, analysts said.

"The resignation was demanded by all coalition partners (of the Positive Slovenia) as well as by the opposition, so it should cause no political difficulty," said Tanja Staric, an analyst at daily Delo.

A new minister will likely be voted in by the middle of December, when the stress tests will show how much capital the government has to provide for state banks and determine whether the country will need a bailout. ($1 = 0.7428 euros) (Reporting by Marja Novak; Editing by Ruth Pitchford and Sonya Hepinstall)

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