Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Members of Parliament Hope For Revival of Capital Market

ZAGREB, 26 May, 2021 - Amendments to the Capital Market Act, which are aimed at further aligning Croatia's regulatory framework with the EU acquis, were supported on Wednesday by both the Opposition and the ruling majority in the parliament, who expressed hopes for the revival of the capital market. 

This is one of the most complicated laws that summarises what kind of capital market Europe wants, said Social Democrat MP Boris Lalovac, warning that Croatia's capital market was far less developed than the European.

"The value of the capital market in Croatia is HRK 276 billion, 140 billion are stocks and 130 billion securities, the annual turnover of the Zagreb Stock Exchange is around HRK 3 billion while the turnover on the OTC market is HRK 27 billion," Lalovac said.

That shows that outside of the stock exchange and capital markets, which have strict rules, trading is ten times greater, Lalovac said, expressing hope this would change.

Grozdana Perić of the HDZ said that better oversight and regulation would enable further development of the capital market in Croatia.

She warned, however, that the coronavirus crisis had caused an outflow of funds from investment funds and that their value had dropped by more than 35% or HRK 8 billion.

That is one of the reasons for amending the law, said the State Secretary at the Finance Ministry, Stjepan Čuraj, who presented the amendments to MPs.

"If we take as an example the Zagreb Stock Exchange alone, during the pandemic in 2020 it dropped by more than 35%, from 2,000 to 1,300 basis points," Čuraj said, noting that there was room for improvement.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Volume of Construction Work in March Up 16% Year-Over-Year

ZAGREB, 26 May, 2021 - The volume of construction work in March 2021 was 16% higher than in March 2020, while compared to the previous month, it dropped by 0.4%, show preliminary data from the Croatian Bureau of Statistics.

March was the tenth consecutive month with a year-on-year increase in the volume of construction work.

The volume of construction work on buildings in March this year was 16.5% up from March 2020 while the volume of work on other structures rose 15.3%.

Compared to February 2021, construction work on buildings in March was up 0.5% and on other structures it was 3.9% higher.

For more about business in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

 

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Zagreb Stock Exchange Crobex Indices Fall

ZAGREB, 25 May, 2021 - The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) Crobex dropped 0.27% to 1,935.39 points and the Crobex10 fell by 0.40% to 1,195.19 points on Tuesday.

Today's turnover totalled HRK 8.4 million, or HRK 900,000 more than on Monday.

In terms of the volume of trading, the best performer was the HT telecom company (1.4 million), and its share price rose 0.54% to HRK 185.

The preferred shares of the Adris Group turned over 1.3 million, and their price slid 1.20% to HRK 412.

The Valamar Riviera stock turned over 1.1 million, and its share price increased 1.36% to HRK 29.80.

The Atlantska Plovidba shipping company generated a turnover of slightly over a million kuna, seeing a share price fall of 1.63% to HRK 361.

A total of 39 stocks traded today, with 16 of them registering share price decreases, 14 rising and eight remaining unchanged.

(€1= HRK 7.506870)

For more about business in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Employers Propose Continuation of Government COVID Subsidies

ZAGREB, 25 May, 2021 - The Croatian Employers' Association (HUP) has proposed measures for maintaining liquidity and launching private investments which include retaining jobkeeping measures and covering a portion of fixed costs, ensuring favourable loans and prolonging loan maturity.

In expectation of COVID measures and lockdown of businesses being lifted, HUP addressed Finance Minister Zdravko Marić and underscored that maintaining liquidity is not only relevant during the lockdown period but should be extended for a longer period, and that recovery can only be possible if investments are boosted.

HUP proposes that jobkeeping measures be extended even after busines restrictions are lifted until such time that  all enterprises generate at least 90% of their pre-pandemic revenue in 2019. HUP believes that abolishing support measures for the economy should be gradual, depending on the epidemiological situation, but also on the circumstances in each individual sector so that Croatia is not faced with a wave of bankruptcies and layoffs.

HUP also calls for a portion of fixed costs to continue to be covered, taking account of the percentage revenue has decreased, and for facilitating access to loans for liquidity and working capital, including guarantee schemes for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

HUP advocates possibly transforming a portion of loans into grants and for the moratorium on loan maturities to be extended for existing loans, along with state guarantees, at least until the end of this year and longer if need be, based on transparent criteria.

HUP proposes additional support loans for exporters and enterprises investing in the 4.0 industry, and support for investments by large companies through increased support for EU co-funded projects.

It also recommends the possibility of deleveraging debts between companies to prevent a chain reaction, and for non-recoverable loans to be identified faster, as well as speeding up bankruptcy procedures, and introducing additional tax cuts.

"We believe that government subsidies to cover the disrupted economic activities due to the COVID crisis should continue until such time that enterprises can do business normally and save jobs without that support," HUP said.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 21 May 2021

E-Matematika: New Online Instruction Developing Business That Helps Pupils

May 21, 2021 - With math seeing more and more appreciation, it's still, quite rightfully, a challenging discipline that not everyone can comprehend. Quality lessons, additional instructions, and motivated lecturers and teachers are the obvious recipe to both help those who struggle with math and those who are good at it to achieve their best possible potential.

However, the coronavirus pandemic is still present and is still causing difficulties in the Croatian education system, forcing pupils and professors to switch from online to live lectures or a mix of the two, putting additional pressure on sharing knowledge on any imaginable subject. With math being a discipline that requires lots of practice and explanations, it's perhaps the subject which has suffered the most.

Still, as Srednja.hr reports, a great potential solution to this issue appeared back in October 2020 when Robert Pavlik started E-Matematika, a website, for online math instructions.

''The site is focused on all students that need help with math, whether it's about fixing a bad grade or preparing for an exam“, writes Srednja.hr.

E-Matematika currently offers 45 minutes of lessons, offering solved mathematical tasks with the procedure detailed, as well as a video explanation.

These instructions are paid for simply through the ''order instructions''check-out process, and it's all quite automated. However, phone and videocalls for arranging instructions are an option for the safety of kids so that parents can see with whom they'll be communicating. Reliable platforms for communication such as Zoom, Google Meet, and MS Teams are also used, and two conditions need to be satisfied for the instructions to work: easy platform access for the student and an uninterrupted video connection. Each instruction ends with the service sending a questionnaire to the students to see how happy they are with the whole experience, as well as a receipt. The questionnaire builds the personal rating of the instructor.

There are four levels of instructions: lower elementary classes, higher elementary classes, high schools, and faculties, which offer more effective services as some instructors prefer to work with teens, and others are specialised working with younger kids. The site so far boasts 100 instructors, and in addition to maths, Croatian pupils can also find instructions from the subjects of physics and chemistry. Srednja.hr adds that students from field-related faculties recognised the work of E-Matematika and want to participate.

The site welcomes anyone interested to apply to become the next instructor, as long as they satisfy the following conditions: two years of instructing experience as a minimum, excellent communication skills, reliability, flexibility in organising instructions, along with patience and the ability to focus on a student.

It's also worth mentioning that the first concept of online instructions in Croatia (again, for math, but also for statistics) appeared in 2011, when a mathematics professor at the Faculty of Science (PMF), University of Zagreb, Toni Milun, started posting videos explaining the curriculum online and for free. And you guessed it; it was a huge hit.

Despite Milun offering additional mathematics lessons for free, E-Matematika having more than 500 registered users and 2000 orders, it seems it can justify the paid offer with its value and use.

However, it will be interesting to see will this trend continue when the pandemic is over and the face-to-face instructions return as normal. Currently, the Croatian media landscape is seeing more and more pupils and parents stepping out and saying that nothing can replace face-to-face classes.

Learn more about Croatian inventions & discoveries: from Tesla to Rimac on our TC page.

For more about science in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

Zagreb Stock Exchange Indices' Winning Streak Broken

ZAGREB, 19 May, 2021 - Amid a moderate trading on the Zagreb Stock Exchange on Wednesday the main indices fell slightly, ending their rising streak over the past few days, with the Podravka food manufacturer's stock drawing the most attention after it proposed a dividend of HRK 9 per share.

The Crobex fell slightly by 0.15% to 1,949 points, breaking its four-day climb. At the same time the Crobex10 weakened by 0.31% to 1,203 points, after rising for three days in a row.

Among the sector indices, the construction index fell by 2.13% while the transport sector strengthened by 0.97%.

Regular turnover amounted to HRK 9.25 million or 2.25 million more than the day before.

The highest turnover of HRK 3.3 million was generated by the Podravka company. The price of its shares weakened by 0.33% to HRK 600.

Podravka's management announced that the general assembly is scheduled for 29 June when shareholders are expected to decide on a HRK 9 dividend, just like last year.

The Valamar Riviera hotel group generated a turnover of HRK 2.33 million. Its shares closed at a price of HRK 29.7, up 0.67%.

A total of  42 stocks traded today, with 16 of them registering share price increases, 17 recording share price decreases and nine remaining stable in price.

(€1 = HRK 7.511281)

For more about business in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

Financial Stability Council Meets to Discuss Risks to Stability of Financial System

ZAGREB, 19 May, 2021 - Timely and full reporting on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on business operations and the materialisation of credit risk in financial institutions is important as some sectors of the Croatian economy are still strongly affected by physical distancing measures, the Financial Stability Council said.

The Financial Stability Council is an inter-institutional body that designs Croatia's macroprudential policy. It consists of representatives of the Croatian National Bank (HNB), the Croatian Financial Services Supervisory Agency (HANFA), the Ministry of Finance and the State Agency for Deposit Insurance (DAB).

The Council met on Tuesday under the chairmanship of HNB Governor Boris Vujčić to discuss main risks to the stability of the financial system. The meeting also involved Finance Minister Zdravko Marić, HANFA Board President Ante Žigman and DAB Director Marija Hrebac.

Despite the accelerated recovery of economic activity from the consequences of the pandemic, in the circumstances of continued uncertainty regarding a return to usual social contacts and business, the financial system's exposure to systemic risks remains elevated, the Council said in a statement, citing high public debt, the financial sector's exposure to the government, a possible rise in the number of insolvent companies and fast growing housing prices as main risks.

It noted that housing prices had risen by 7.7% in 2020 year on year and surpassed their level in the period preceding the global financial crisis, adding that housing loans were picking up.

Given that some sectors of the economy are still strongly affected by physical distancing measures, the Council said that a premature cancellation of aid could put healthy businesses at risk and increase the credit risk, while extended maintenance of support could keep companies with unsustainable business models on the market and zombify the corporate sector, which would have adverse implications for growth and financial stability, the statement warned.

The Council said the banking sector was highly capitalised and liquid. The volume of loans covered by the loan repayment moratorium continued to fall after peaking in September 2020 and at the end of March 2021 it covered 8.6% of corporate and household loans. The loans covered by the moratorium were mostly aimed at hotels and restaurants.

The Council said that the recovery of the financial markets, which began at the end of last year, had continued in the first half of this year and that nearly all sectors supervised by HANFA were seeing growth.

The positive mood has also affected the financial services sector, whose assets at the end of March 2021 were 3.5% higher than at the end of 2020, accounting for 32.15% of the total assets of the financial system in Croatia, or 61.7% of the nominal GDP, the statement said.

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Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Zagreb Stock Exchange: Crobex Continues Upward Movement For Fourth Day in Row

ZAGREB, 18 May, 2021 - The main Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices continued their upward movement on Tuesday. 

The Crobex jumped by 0.49% to 1,952 points, continuing its rise for the fourth day in a row, while the Crobex10 gained 0.42% to end the day at 1,207 points, rising for three straight trading days.

Turnover at the close of the trading session was HRK 7 million, about 1.9 million lower than on Monday, and three stocks passed the turnover mark of one million kuna.

The highest turnover, of HRK 1.4 million, was generated by the stock of the Podravka food company, which closed at HRK 602 per share, up 0.33%.

It was followed by the preferred stock of the Adris tourism and insurance group, turning over HRK 1.38 million. Its price rose by 0.24% to HRK 423.

The stock of the HT telecommunications company turned over HRK 1.3 million, ending the day at HRK 185 per share, up 0.82%.

A total of 39 stocks traded today, with 20 of them registering share price increases, 12 recording share price decreases and 7 remaining stable in price.

(€1 = HRK 7.517964)

For more about business in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Croatian CityGreens Farming Offers Solution to Land Fertility Issues

May the 18th, 2021 - The Croatian company CityGreens Farming has offered an innovative solution to an issue many in the agriculture sector suffer, which is a lack of fertile land.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, although it might sound like a script from science fiction films to most, the technology of growing food indoors without fertile land is already a reality today, and the Croatian company CityGreens Farming from Zagreb is also contributing to its development.

The leading people of that aforementioned company, Josip Ceovic and Filip Mijatovic, explained that they have developed an innovative system for aeroponic plant cultivation implemented in the form of a vertical farm. “We're the first company in the region to develop so-called High Pressure Aeroponic systems, both in a home form and in an industrial form. Aeroponic cultivation is the process of growing plants without the use of soil or water pools, classic hydroponic cultivation, where the root of the plant is fed through a nutrient mist.

The technology was first devised by NASA and is considered the highest and purest cultivation technology where plants grow without sun or soil in strictly controlled conditions. Pesticides, fungicides and herbicides aren't used in cultivation, and the system is fully automated,'' explained Mijatovic.

He added that this is a new device completely designed and made in Croatia.

"The aeronautical technology on which the device works has been known for the last fifteen years after NASA invented and perfected it for growing plants in space. Of course, the designs, components, and accompanying software for their devices aren't publicly available, and our device is our own interpretation of that technology.

There are aeroponic farms in parts of the world which use similar devices, but this technology is still in its infancy and we're only at the very beginning of its development and wider application,'' stated Mijatovic. The innovative duo from CityGreens Farming pointed out that compared to farms in Spain where hydroponic vegetables are produced, such as Tower Garden or Agrotonomy, their system is far more sophisticated and uses High Pressure Aeroponics while they use Low Pressure Aeroponics.

“Our vegetative cycle is fully automated and uses advanced computer algorithms that use sensors (temperature, humidity, CO2, light intensity and a spectrum, water mist nutrients, PH levels, etc.) to measure and adjust these parameters to create an ideal atmosphere for plant growth,'' explained Ceovic.

Such a farm, they added, is especially suitable for countries that have a lack of arable land or very difficult weather conditions. For example Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Iceland, etc.

In addition, since such a farm can be located in the city itself, the distribution chain has been completely changed and only a few hours need to pass from harvest to table, unlike the usual transport by boat or truck in refrigerators.

The project was also helped by the European Union (EU) with 1.7 million kuna from its regional development fund, and CityGreens Farming currently has a demonstration plant in Zitnjak in Zagreb, where has production covering over 200 square metres. The pair noted that it is difficult to talk about the specific price of such a farm because every project would be quite individual, and thus the prices would naturally vary.

However, when looking at the general advantages of this sort of technology, the growth cycle is up to 60 percent faster than usual, water consumption is 98 percent lower, fertiliser use is 60 percent lower, and pesticides, herbicides and fungicides are 100 percent lower.

These Zagreb innovators concluded with one important fact, and that is that their technology and production have nothing to do with GMO seeds and cultivation, which people often confuse with controlled cultivation. Bio and Eco certificates can also be readily obtained for this type of production.

For more, follow Made in Croatia.

Saturday, 15 May 2021

Slovenian Iskra Has Eyes on One of Largest Croatian Exporters

May the 15th, 2021 - Slovenia's Iskra wants to take over a very well known Zagreb-based company and one of the largest Croatian exporters as the business climate begins gaining some sense of semi-normality back again.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Suzana Varosanec writes, the business climate is gradually recovering, we have learned to live with the coronavirus and the vaccine is here, and for Iskra as well as for many other Slovenian companies, a new wave of development can start. That naturally means greater investments in automation, robotics and new innovative technologies.

This was stated by Iskra's Dusan Sesok, whose family-owned company has come back into focus again here in Croatia as well. The last time it was on Croatia's business radar was on the occasion of them taking over the shipyard in Sibenik from the former owner there - today they're successfully developing a business called Iskra shipyard. Now, the media is following the Slovenian publication related to the takeover of Zagreb's Elka, otherwise the largest regional cable company and one of the largest Croatian exporters.

Following Iskra's information regarding the process around this company, one of the biggest Croatian exporters, which they informed the Slovenian regulator about, it has been found out that the transaction hasn't been completed. The process is still ongoing, according to the director of Iskra.

A recently held meeting was attended by representatives of the ownership ''staff'' of both companies; Matija Sesok, one of the juniors who runs Iskra's operations, as well as a member of the Croatian Elka company, Miljenko Hacek. Apparently, this was an all-day meeting.

Hacek said that with more than half a billion kuna in revenue, Elka is a recovered company, it is stable. It has operated positively for the last two years and even achieved growth last year despite the coronavirus pandemic. They have promising plans for this year, and growth is expected to continue.

Matija Sesok, referring to the same topic, said that Elka's business last year and this year was such that it had become very interesting for Iskra.

Iskra's director, economist Dusan Sesok, who was the Minister of Economy and Finance in two Slovenian Governments, pointed out that his domain included taking over other companies, as well as environmental projects.

He confirmed that Iskra wants to enter a new field of activity - in the field of energy and telecommunications cable production, but didn't want to comment on the alleged potential takeover of one of the largest Croatian exporters - Elka.

''We're still in a sensitive phase,'' he said, and according to him, the first statements on this topic can be expected in about ten days at the earliest. Otherwise, the Slovenian Iskra had a record 130 million euros last year.

Good political relations

This, he says, will be a long-term trend, as after production was transferred to Asia, it is now returning home to Europe as everyone tends to buy in short supply chains from European producers. Iskra employs a total of 1,300 workers, of which 170 are in the Dalmatian city of Sibenik, where they also have about 100 subcontractors.

"Political relations between Croatia and Slovenia are good again after a number of years of tension, which is a good basis for greater connections between our companies," concluded Iskra's Sesok.

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