Bankruptcy Proceedings Launched in Uljanik Shipyard

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, May 13, 2019 – The Commercial Court in Pazin on Monday opened bankruptcy proceedings in Pula’s Uljanik shipyard.

Judge Ivan Dujić announced on April 24 he would open bankruptcy proceedings if Uljanik’s bank account was not unfrozen by May 13.

The chairman of the shipyard’s board, Sandi Božac, said Uljanik’s account had been frozen for 231 days now. According to the latest Financial Agency (Fina) figures, the dock’s debt totals 164.8 million kuna, including 76.5 million kuna in workers’ receivables.

Uljanik has 1,118 workers, of whom 1,058 in Pula and 60 in Rijeka.

Over the past month, bankruptcy proceedings have been opened in four other companies of the Uljanik shipbuilding group. A hearing is scheduled for May 17 at a which a decision will be made as to whether bankruptcy proceedings will be opened in the group as well.

Motions for launching bankruptcy proceedings in the group’s companies, including the 3. Maj dock in Rijeka, have been filed by Fina because their bank accounts have been frozen over 120 days.

Fina filed the motion for the Uljanik shipyard at the end of January because its account was frozen for a debt of 75.9 million kuna.

The bankruptcy hearing for the dock was postponed twice, the last time on April 24 because representatives of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation visited the shipyard and 3. Maj at the end of April and the start of May. The intentions of the Chinese regarding the two dock remains unknown.

Croatia no longer has a shipbuilding industry as of today, Adriatic Union president Boris Cerovac said in Pula on Monday after the Commercial Court in Pazin opened bankruptcy proceedings in the shipyard.

The dock’s chairman of the board, Sandi Bozac, said Uljanik’s account had been frozen for 231 days now. “We are heading for an end because we definitely found no reason to delay today’s hearing. The Chinese have shown a certain interest, but that’s a long process and no concrete offer has been received so far. However, independently of the bankruptcy, the Chinese partner can always get involved because bankruptcy won’t turn them away,” Božac told reporters.

“If someone thinks shipbuilding will stay at Brodosplit or Brodotrogir, they are very wrong. The only shipyard that could build high-tech ships is Uljanik. Therefore, if Uljanik is gone, so is shipbuilding,” said Cerovac.

According to him, the biggest responsibility is with the government and parliament, “everyone… who could have… responded promptly, but did not.” He said the prime minister and the ministers of the economy and finance “did not help, as their main goal was the closure of the shipyards in Pula and Rijeka.”

“They have kept workers without pay for eight, nine months, destroying many families… making people leave Uljanik, Istria and Croatia,” Cerovac said, adding that “the state gave up on Uljanik, which is 163 years old, long ago.”

Shop steward Đino Šverko said he, too, was disappointed with the inaction of the government and state institutions. “They didn’t do what they were promising the whole time, which was restructuring. They were stalling us the whole time and now their biggest worry is if the client Jan De Nul will agree to having a ship built in Croatia. They care about steel, about ships, but they don’t care about people. That’s not statesmanlike,” he said, adding that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Economy Minister Darko Horvat “should be ashamed.”

Šverko expects a bankruptcy trustee to arrive at Uljanik on Friday or next Monday and star firing people.

Commenting on the court decision to open bankruptcy proceedings in Uljanik, Pula Mayor Boris Miletić of the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS) said that the incumbent government would be remembered as the one that had destroyed the Croatian shipbuilding industry and signed the surrender of the Croatian economy.

“The process of pushing Uljanik towards bankruptcy has been marked by the lack of any courage, political responsibility and human decency,” Miletić said in a statement.

He said that the shipyard’s management was responsible for the company’s operations but that the state could not be exempted from responsibility as the single biggest shareholder in Uljanik with a 25% interest.

“Bankruptcy will have traumatic consequences for the entire Croatian economy. Uljanik has been an economic and cultural symbol of Istria and has provided livelihoods for thousands of families for 163 years,” he said.

He said that due to centralisation, neither the city nor the county authorities had at their disposal any mechanism to influence the shipyards’ operations or intervene after Uljanik had found itself in crisis.

Miletić noted that the city and county authorities had launched a number of measures to help Uljanik workers and their families, including free retraining courses, measures designed to encourage employers to hire Uljanik workers who have lost their jobs, and the appointment of a commission to assist workers.

More Uljanik news can be found in the Business section.


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