Brussels, 20 November 2012
State aid: Commission opens in-depth inquiry into state measures in favour of Slovenian airline Adria Airways
The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to verify whether a number of public support measures in favour of the Slovenian airline Adria Airways are in line with EU state aid rules. These measures include four capital injections between 2007 and 2011 amounting to around €85.5 million. The Commission has doubts that they were granted on market terms. The opening of an in-depth investigation gives interested third parties an opportunity to submit comments on the measures under assessment. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.
The majority State-owned company has been facing financial difficulties for several years and has had a negative net result since at least 2008. In order to address these difficulties, Adria Airways adopted a "Financial and Business Restructuring Program" plan in September 2011.
The Commission identified several public measures in favour of Adria Airways.
Four capital injections were carried out in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011, amounting to approximately €85.5 million. These capital increases were carried out either directly by Slovenia or through the State-owned holding Posebna družba za podjetniško svetovanje d.d. (PDP) or its predecessor Kapitalska druzba d.d. (KAD). The 2007 and 2009 capital injections were subscribed almost in their entirety by KAD. The 2010 capital increase was funded at 80% by PDP and at 20% by two tourist agencies. In 2011, Slovenia and PDP injected €50 million in cash into Adria Airways, while a number of banks – including the majority State-owned Nova Ljubljanska Banka d.d. (NLB) – converted into equity €19.7 million of debt.
In addition, the Commission found that PDP and the majority State-owned manager of Ljubljana's airport respectively acquired 52.3% and 47.7% of Adria Airway's subsidiary Adria Airways Tehnika between October 2010 and March 2011.
The Commission will now investigate whether one or more of the identified measures constitute state aid in the meaning of EU rules, i.e. if they have procured an economic advantage to Adria Airways over its competitors in the EU Single Market. In the affirmative, the Commission will investigate whether they can be found compatible with EU state aid rules that allow certain categories of aid.
Public interventions in companies that carry out economic activities can be considered free of state aid in the meaning of the EU rules when they are made on terms that a private player operating under market conditions would have accepted (the market economy investor principle – MEIP).
If the MEIP is not respected, the public intervention constitutes state aid because it procured an economic advantage to the beneficiary that its competitors did not have. The Commission will then proceed to assess, whether such aid can be found compatible with the common EU rules that allow certain categories of aid.
The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.32715 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.
Antoine Colombani (+32 2 297 45 13)
Maria Madrid Pina (+32 2 295 45 30)