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Slovenia Business Week no. 33/2004: Former Foreign Minister Thaler to Head Simobil

He was appointed after CEO Bojan Dremelj decided to leave before his term in office expires in autumn

Zoran Thaler, a businessman and former foreign minister, has been appointed the new CEO of Slovenia's second largest mobile telephony provider, Simobil. He was appointed after CEO Bojan Dremelj decided to leave before his term in office expires in autumn.

"I'm leaving Simobil at the right moment. It is on the way up, it is successful," the 45-year-old Dremelj, who will remain on the supervisory board, told the press on Tuesday, 10 August.

"After nine years I've decided that it is time for new challenges and new projects," said Dremelj, who added he was still considering several offers for a new job.

The new CEO, however, said he sees his new job as a great opportunity and responsibility. In Thaler's view, Slovenia should "Europeanise" in telecommunications as well. He believes Simobil's responsibility to lie in the development of mobile telephony services of quality.

"On the other hand, the responsibility of the regulatory authorities in Slovenia is to normalise or rather demonopolise the market of mobile services...," said Thaler.

According to chair of the supervisory board, Boris Nemsic, Thaler has the right combination of qualifications and knowledge for the post. Also sitting on the management board will be Andreas Maierhofer, who became a member of the board in June.

Born in 1962, Thaler graduated in political sciences. After being politically active as a student he was elected an MP at the first multi-party election in 1990. He served as the minister of foreign affairs twice.

In mid 1997, he wrapped up his political career and founded an international consulting company, which also founded the company Eon in 1998, specialised in secure Internet operations. Eon in 2003 merged with the cable operator Telemach.

In 2003, Simobil posted operating revenues of SIT 19.1bn (EUR 80m), up 6.9 percent over the previous year.

The pre-tax loss dropped from SIT 2.8bn (EUR 11.7m) in 2002 to SIT 837m (EUR 3.5m) in 2003, and the net loss dropped from SIT 7.2bn (EUR 30m) to 5.2bn (EUR 21.7m). At the end of 2003, Simobil controlled 23.6 percent of the market with a total of 361,466 users, up 3.3 percent year-on-year.

Simobil is a part of the Mobilkom Austria group, which controls a 75-percent stake in the company.

Other owners include several Slovenian companies: energy and tourism company Istrabenz (8.24%), shipping company Intereuropa (5.48%), telecommunications company Iskratel (5.46%), financial services company Medaljon (2.35%), Probanka bank (2.35%) and Telemach (1.12%).

Source: Slovene Press Agency STA

Author: Branka Murn