Vienna. (dg) The state-owned company will become a public limited company again, the federal government's influence on its investments will be strengthened and the portfolio will be expanded to include Verbund AG and Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft (BIG). These are the pillars of the reform of the ÖBIB state holding company, which will be called Österreichische Beteiligungs AG (ÖBAG) or Monday. The total portfolio of ÖBAG thus rises to 23,600 million euros. "Every Austrian is therefore a shareholder with an average of 2,650 euros in the associated companies of ÖBAG," said Finance Minister Hartwig Löger (ÖVP) on Monday before journalists.
The dividends will increase from € 240.1 million to € 470.2 million with the BIG. "It takes Verbund, which remains in the property of the BMF, even in it, then it is 544.2 million euros," said Secretary of State Hubert Fuchs (FPÖ). Verbund's investment currently stands at 3,400 million euros, the last dividend amounted to 74 million euros. Although the participation of 51% of the Republic in Verbund remains with the Ministry of Finance, it is administered by ÖBAG through a management contract.
The government wants to strengthen the influence of the federal government within state-owned enterprises with the current reform. The state-owned company will become a limited liability company in a public limited company, which was already before its 2015 reform. The objective is to establish a Supervisory Board of nine members with six capital representatives and three representatives of the employees. The latter comes from the three major participating companies. In addition, a board is appointed.
The fact that ÖBIB has no supervisory advice has prevented this wide range of specialized expertise from contributing, Löger said. The former construction as a limited liability company did not allow the state that owns as the administrator of the federal portions to take a "buffer function" between the companies and the policy. For each decision, the instructions of the Ministry of Finance were necessary. With the reform, ÖBAG and, therefore, the republic are again represented in the supervisory board of investment companies.
Privatization was not planned
Speculation about possible privatizations, Löger pointed back. Such are not currently planned. For acquisitions, the laws regulated the regulations: government decisions are only necessary if the limits of 25, 50 or 75 percent are exceeded. For minor modifications, only one "Go" of the Minister of the Treasury is offered.
A capital committee of between five and nine members, which should include professionals, must approve any purchase or warranty. This advises the minister, the executive board of ÖBAG and the supervisory board.
Above all, the opposition and the Ministry of Justice criticized the particularly short assessment period. For the evaluation, only four business days were granted. "The government should not operate such a large project that passed to the public and parliament, even the partially good starting points could be even better," said the general director of SPÖ, Thomas Drozda. Union life described the conversion as a "Husch-Pfusch action." She fears "favoritism" in investment firms.
On November 29 the Parliament's finance committee meets to discuss the ÖBAG reform. On December 12 or 13, the plenary will decide on the reform and on December 20 the Federal Council. The new law will come into force at the beginning of 2019. The board must be appointed until mid-February. The participation committee should be no later than March and meet "ad hoc".