Debeljak and Government reconcile ahead of choice of partner for Uljanik

The first sessions of the thematic innovation councils were held at the end of last week at the Ministry of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Crafts, under the chairmanship of Antonio Antonić, State Secretary at the Ministry and also the chairman of the Innovation council for industry. Some intriguing information has been heard at the sessions.
Tomislav Debeljak
 Tom Dubravec / CROPIX

The Thematic Innovation Councils work within five thematic priority areas of the Smart Specialization Strategy (S3) of the Republic of Croatia for the 2016 to 2020 period, referring to health and quality of life, transport and mobility, energy and sustainable environment, security, and food and bioeconomics. The members of the councils are mainly representatives of the business sector, the scientific-research community and institutions of public authority.

At the first sessions, heads of the councils and their and deputies were elected: in the Transport and Mobility they are Mija Šipek (DIV Group) and Petar Milas (Altpro), in the Food and Bioeconomics Jasmina Ranilović (Podravka) and Anđelko Dobročinac (Spačva), in the Security Gordan Pešić (Dok-Ing) and Filip Aralica (Brodosplit dd), in Energy and Sustainable Environment Ernest Vlačić (Novamina - Center for Innovative Technologies) and Ivana Lampek Pavčnik, and in the Health and Quality of Life Dragan Primorac (Sv. Katarina Special Hospital) and Jerko Jakšić (PharmaS).

Blessing of the authorities

What sticks out in the announcement is the presence of two representatives of the DIV Group (Šipek and Aralica). It is certainly commendable for the DIV Group and its Brodosplit shipyard, but has special significance in the context of the process of the Government seeking a strategic partner for the Uljanik shipyard. It looks as if, after a long time, the Group and the Ministry of Economy have managed to achieve a friendly business relationship.

Although it is clear that the heads of the councils were primarily picked by representatives of the business sector and the scientific and research community, there is no doubt that they also had to have the blessing of representatives of the authorities. This suggests that, this time, neither the Uljanik Management nor the Ministry of the Economy will undermine a takeover offer for Uljanik Group (or its part, probably the 3. Maj shipyard) by the DIV Group and the Italian Fincantieri out of hand. When the DIV Group posted an independent bid for the recapitalization of the Uljanik Group a year ago, the Uljanik Management and Supervisory Boards rejected it and accepted the restructuring plan by Danko Končar's company Kermas Energija instead.


Of late, however, both boards annulled that decision and started looking for new strategic partners. As far as it is known, due diligence at the Uljanik Group has been performed by the DIV Group and the Italian Fincantieri, who announced a joint bid, the Ukrainian Smart Holding of Vadim Novinski, the Australian Scenic group, the Chinese CSIC, and a consortium of several German companies.

Due diligence can be performed until January 24, and Friday, January 25, is the deadline for investors to submit bids for the restructuring and recapitalization of the Uljanik Group or its part to the Ministry of Economy. Most investors are apparently interested in the 3. Maj shipyard of Rijeka, but one of the problems here is that this company cannot receive state subsidies anymore, as its restructuring has been completed. The other shipyard in the group, Uljanik of Pula, faces the so-called initial bankruptcy proceedings on January 26, which is the day on which its bank accounts will have been blocked by creditors for 120 days solid. The restructuring of the entire Uljanik Group thus seems to be a "mission impossible".

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02. ožujak 2024 03:25