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Brussels, 24 th February 2010

State aid: Commission launches in-depth investigation into €166 million State loan granted to the Slovak rail freight company

The European Commission has launched an in-depth investigation to ascertain whether the loan granted by the Slovak State to Železničná spoločnosť Cargo Slovakia a.s (ZSSK Cargo) is compatible with the EU State aid rules. At this stage the Commission believes that the loan - which the Slovak rail freight company will use to finance costs linked to the operation of the company - could constitute State aid that is incompatible with the internal market. The investigation will give all the interested parties the opportunity to submit their comments.

Under the Government Decree n° 173 of 4 March 2009, the Slovak authorities granted a loan of €166 million to the Slovak freight rail operator ZSSK Cargo to enable it to cope with financial problems.

At this stage, the Commission is concerned that this measure in favour of ZSSK Cargo might constitute illegal State aid that is incompatible with EU legislation and therefore might give the company an unjustified advantage over its competitors.

Launching this procedure will enable the Commission to examine in detail the exact nature of this measure and the conditions under which the aid has been granted. In this context, the Commission will assess whether a private investor would have acted in the same way as the Slovak Government.

The launch of this in-depth investigation will allow all the interested parties to express their points of view. It does not prejudge the final decision the Commission will take.

The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number NN 48/2009 in the State Aid Register on the DG Competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. New publications of State aid decisions on the internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the State Aid Weekly e-News .

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