At the start of the enfeebled Uljanik’s bigger problems, the Croatian Government’s view was either restructuring or bankruptcy, and now there’s no time to devise any sort of new solution.
As Marija Brnic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 28th of March, 2019, the government rejected the offer of strategic partner Brodosplit for Uljanik’s restructuring, and thus, although the prime minister tried to avoid actually saying it, a process that would have a domino effect on all the companies operating within the Pula-based group system was launched.
The fact that there is no longer a strategic partner for Uljanik, which was the main argument for the postponement of the opening of bankruptcy proceedings in the previous proceedings on the 3 Maj shipyard and Uljanik’s other companies, is changing the situation and it is now clear that no matter how much room the government initially left for some possible new solutions, the judge in Pazin doesn’t have much of a choice today and will determine that the conditions for declaring bankruptcy for the Uljanik shipyard are now fulfilled. Such a decision automatically withdraws what the Rijeka court stated and opens bankruptcy proceedings for the 3 Maj shipyard.
All the speculations that there could be another possibility for Uljanik, for which Prime Minister Andrej Plenković left space in his statement, are empty stories, not only because of the fact that right at the very beginning of Uljanik’s growing woes, the government’s position was that the only possible scenarios for Uljanik’s rescue were restructuring or bankruptcy, but also because of the fact that now, there is definitely no more time available to come up with a new solution for the burdened shipyard. When it comes to the question of the possibility of the continuation of shipbuilding in Pula and Rijeka as a whole, the key question remains the same – how many ships could buyers actually be found for, and then arrive other questions regarding financing through bankruptcy.
Two ships that are now in their final stages of construction in Pula were de facto detained over the past few days by the company’s emotionally exhausted employees, and Uljanik’s workers aren’t finishing the job, because “other” workers, not from that shipyard, are working on Scenic’s polar cruiser, while Jan de Nul is awaiting the government’s decision to pay the requested difference of 22 million euros and to take over and finish it in Trieste, Italy.
From Pula, the request was for the completion of construction to be carried out in Uljanik, but the government didn’t even discuss that yesterday, so it remains unknown as to whether the Ministry of Finance has worked to meet the necessary conditions, and if so, when it intends to pay any price differences and deal with the issue of the contracted vessels.
Although it’s quite impossible to describe the situation surrounding Uljanik and Croatian shipbuilding as a whole as anything remotely positive, its rather lucky, analysts agree, that all of this happened and seems to have finally reached its peak in a year in which a surplus was recorded, but that doesn’t minimise the issues Uljanik faces, nor does it even begin to confront the shipyard’s overworked and well and truly underpaid employees.
The interesting thing which always happens in Croatia is the intertwining of business and politics. Just like with the messy Agrokor situation that has dominated the Croatian media for the past couple of years, there is always a political element, and if there isn’t really one, someone will make you believe there is. The Istrian Democratic Party (IDS) has accused the Croatian Government of purposely trying to cause issues by using the Uljanik saga to its benefit, even claiming that the ”government’s lack of action and indecisiveness” is an attempt to destabilise Istria.