Money losers sink deeper into red paced by Srbijagas
by Djordje Daskalovich
On the money losers side, the general downtrend in the financial performance of the top 100 companies in Southeast Europe (SEE) is even more evident than in the other rankings. The combined loss of the ten biggest loss-makers among the entrants in SEE TOP 100 widened to 1.8 billion euro from 1.3 billion euro they posted a year earlier. In comparison, the top ten entrants in last year's edition of the ranking posted a combied loss of 1.6 billion euro. As energy companies continue to dominate the ranking, the negative result can largely be attributed to the sharp fall in oil prices on the global markets, which added to the other factors curbing the performance of the companies in the region.
Serbian state-owned gas monopoly, Srbijagas, remains the biggest loss-maker for the third year in a row, even though it managed to cut its net loss to 373.5 million euro from 434.9 million euro a year earlier. The company's restructuring is one of the most important issues on the agenda of the Serbian government, as it should provide the basis for rectifying a breach of the Energy Community law while also creating conditions for Serbia to start accession talks with the EU on energy policy. The Serbian energy minister has said that a financial adviser for Srbijagas will be picked by the end of the third quarter of 2015.
Romania may have the biggest presence in the most profitable companies ranking, but it also dominates the not so glamorous money losers ranking with four entries. Most of the Romanian money losers again come from the energy industry, leaving only one spot for the metal industry. Slovenia and Bulgaria were tied for the second spot with two entries each. Bosnia and Herzegovina had one representative. Bulgarian state-owned electricity
util- ity Natsionalna Elektricheska Kompania (NEK) jumped to the second spot this year from no. 10 in the previous edition, after its net loss more than doubled to 299.9 million euro from 111.4 million euro a year earlier. NEK's catastrophic performance last year was largely the result of its obligation under long-term contracts with US companies AES and ContourGlobal to buy at a fixed price electricity generated by their thermal power plants in the country. Another factor that impacted its performance was that it was not calculating into the price for end-suppliers the full amount of costs it had sustained due to its obligation regarding the purchase of power generated from renewable sources.
Oil refinery Lukoil Neftochim Burgas, another Bulgarian company, took the third place after its net loss widened to 272.1 million euro from 123.3 million euro a year earlier.
Two Romanian companies coming from the petroleum and gas sector - Rompetrol Rafinare and Complexul Energetic Oltenia, were ranked at no. 4 and no. 5, respectively after their performance deteriorated sharply last year. Rompetrol Rafinare saw its net loss widen to 239.8 million euro from 50 million euro while Complexul Energetic Oltenia's turned to a net loss of 154.8 million euro in 2014 from a net profit of 1 million euro a year earlier. Through its two refineries, Rompetrol Rafinare accounts for over 40% of Romania's refining capacity and is the only producer of polymers in the country. In 2015, the Romanian government announced layoff plans for the state-controlled energy holding company Complexul Energetic Oltenia and restructuring measures aimed at boosting its efficiency.
The last entrant in the top money losers ranking – Slovenian car parts maker CIMOS, recorded a net loss of 49.8 million euro.