Shipping company Splošna Plovba in dire straits

Portorož, 12 April (STA) - Splošna Plovba, the sole Slovenian-based shipping company, is selling off its assets, the newspaper Dnevnik reports, inferring that its German owner Döehle ICL appears to be withdrawing from Slovenia.

The paper writes that the company's financial results are cause for concern, citing data showing that the company's sales revenue collapsed from EUR 214m in 2008 to EUR 30m in 2017 when the company posted a EUR 3.7m loss.

In its annual report the company blamed the loss on lower fares and partly on the tax liabilities resulting from its subsidiary Genshipping failing to reinvest the proceeds from the ships sold in 2012.

The company also disclosed that Gensphipping has asked creditor banks for a two-year moratorium on the repayment of loans, the condition for which was selling one ship. The rescheduled loan plan was agreed in March 2018.

Dnevnik also reports that Splošna Plovba had EUR 60m worth of financial liabilities at the end of 2017.

A key problem is the debt owed to the Financial Administration with the company due to pay several million euro this month, which some estimates indicate could sink the Portorož-based shipping company.

This is why last year the company had been lobbying for amendments to tonnage tax act, under which the money from the ships must be reinvested within five years or included in the income tax base.

The attempts to have the law amended by means of contentious practices so that Splošna Plovba avoided paying tax have also come under scrutiny from police investigators.

After house searches in July last year, the media reported that the suspects included former Finance Ministry State Secretary Tilen Božič, former Splošna Plovba majority owner Jochen Döhle and board member Borut Grgič.

In December last year, Döhle was succeeded as the company's chairman by Claudio Manuel Aguayo Herrera. Grgič also left as well as Rok Hladnik as authorised officer.

Dnevnik also reporters that the company's headcount has decreased to 30 and that the number of ships was reduced from 26 in 2008 to only six last year.