Komercijalna banka privatization increases US influence in Serbia
[Image: 036a1915405a6cef4e7e810dbb0cfa97.jpg]

After of years of hesitating to privatize its largest state-owned bank, Komercijalna banka, Serbia reached a deal to sell it to Slovenian Nova Ljubljanska banka (NLB), which is controlled by Bank of New York Mellon.

The acquisition was announced in late February, just two months prior to Serbia’s April parliamentary elections and a few days prior to the country’s President Aleksandar Vucic's trip to Washington for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

The presence of Slovenian capital is not new in Serbia due to numerous similarities in working culture and mentality between the two countries, yet NLB’s purchase of Komercijalna banka still came as a surprise to many within Serbia. What makes this step news is the fact that NLB is partially in the hands of a US company and thus indirectly puts Komercijalna banka in the same position.

Bank of New York Mellon controls 62.32% of NLB shares on behalf of GDR holders, of which between 5% and 10% belong to Brandes Investment Partners, L.P., the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Schroders plc.

The acquisition of Komercijalna banka gives NLB the largest network on the Serbian market which could be a way for the US to spread its influence. This would be an additional step in the US’ ongoing campaign to warm up relations with Serbia that started a couple of years ago with a series of videos titled “You are the world” created by the US embassy in Belgrade. The campaign started in the summer of 2018 when the two countries celebrated the 100th anniversary since the first raising of the Serbian flag in front of the White House.

Komercijalna banka’s acquisition by NLB, if linked with Vucic’s participation at the AIPAC, may be positive news for potential Israeli investors in Serbia too, especially after his March 3 announcement that Serbia plans to buy weapons from Israel. So far, overall trade between the two countries has been modest but some big Israeli names such as Plazza Group and The Strauss Adriatic Company already operate in Serbia.

Just as the privatisation of NLB was loudly opposed in Slovenia, the privatization of Komercijalna banka is being criticized in Serbia, mainly by people belonging to the generations that lived under communism in Yugoslavia, a federation to which both countries belonged.

The news about NLB’s move to buy Komercijalna banka came out of the blue for many Serbians as there wasn’t a lot of media reporting or speculation about it, even after it became public that NLB took part in the privatization.

According to the Serbian Ministry of Finance, by the end of the transaction, Serbia will receive a total of more than €450mn. In addition to the €387mn from the sale of its stake in Komercijalna banka, the state will receive interest of 2% per annum, which NLB will be obliged to pay from January 1, 2020 to the date of the completion of the transaction. The agreement also stipulates that 50% of the reported revenue for 2019 will be paid as a dividend, on the basis of which Serbia will receive approximately €31mn. In addition, the payment of dividends from previous years is foreseen, adding approximately €26mn to the total.

Slovenia’s government remained the largest single owner of NLB with a controlling stake of 25% plus one share. The remaining dispersed ownership consists of institutional investors from the region, Europe and further afield, while there are also a few small investors. Most of the shareholders were represented by Bank of New York Mellon as the depositary, according to STA. 

Quote:“We don’t want banks linked to political parties… NLB is a bank that participated in the tender for Komercijalna banka’s acquisition, and it is not Slovenian, only 25% is Slovenian, the remainder is American,” Vucic said on a television show on February 26.

This statement may not bring him a lot of applause even among members and supporters of his own Serbian Progressive Party (SNS).

By increasing its presence and bringing its capital to Serbia and the region, the US seems to be fighting against the spread of Russian influence.



Reported February 23, 2020

More Russian weapons for Serbia despite US sanction threats

Serbia has received a sophisticated anti-aircraft system from Russia, despite possible U.S. sanctions against the Balkan state, which is formally seeking European Union membership.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told the pro-government TV Prva on Sunday that the Pantsir S1 air-defense system was purchased after suggestions from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Buy Pantsir, it showed its best efficiency in Syria,” Vucic quoted Putin as saying during one of their recent, frequent meetings.

“This anti-aircraft system is very efficient for targeting drones which are becoming crucial in modern warfare," Vucic said.

Despite seeking to join the EU, Serbia under Vucic's populist leadership has strengthened close political and military ties with its Slavic ally Russia.

Serbia has pledged to stay out of NATO and refused to join Western sanctions against Russia for its policies in Ukraine.



Vucic has been trying to explain the benefits of the Komercijalna banka privatization, but many of his voters fear the consequences of putting a state-owned bank into the hands of a private owners.

Several people informally polled reflected these fears.

Svetlana Stankovic (73), from the southern city of Vranje, ran to Komercijalna banka to take out her few hundred euros of savings to avoid losing them when she heard about the sale.

Quote:“Did you remember what Dafina [Milanovic] and Jezda [Vaisljevic] did to people? I don’t want my hard earned money to be taken by some foreigners!”

Milanovic and Vaisljevic ran two banks in the 1990s, during the wars in Yugoslavia and the economic crisis and embargo in Serbia. They promised sky-high interest rates and encouraged thousands of people to put their money into the banks, hoping their savings would grow. However, the pair disappeared with more than $1bn in hard currency and never came back. 

Zorica Cvetkovic (71) almost started crying when asked about Komercijalna banka. Like most people that worked and still work in government institutions, such as schools, hospitals and the police, she was getting her salary and now gets her pension via Komercijalna banka. Now she is thinking to change her bank but doesn’t know where to go as virtually all the other banks in Serbia are also private; many people chose to bank with Komercijalna banka precisely because it was state-owned.

Quote:“It’s hard for us now, very hard. I worked for 40 years and my money is now in the hands of someone I didn’t even know who that is. Everything will be sold one day and we will all be slaves,” she stated.

What does this have to do with pirating ( which is what we are doing)? 

Probably nothing.

PB is based in Sweden and spread out all over the world. So torrents are seeded in many countries. BFD.
Is the US gonna pressure the Serbians to stop pirating? Like trying to stop purse snatchers. Get one and there is whole gang of others that will continue the game for years to come. A few commies in Serbia are worried about "foreigners" controling their money. It is a joke. Globalization is here and yes, the US is the biggest fish. But the US will protect those small countries if they are attacked by other countries. So the price to pay for that is privatization of banks with US investors have control. 

That is a good thing, and don't worry about pirating, a lot of that is happening in the US too.


Quote:"What does this have to do with pirating ( which is what we are doing)?"

If you are interested in news only relating to filesharing, you are free to provide that yourself on this site, in this section. 

However, Torrentfreak already provides coverage on those issues, complemented by their comments section. It would be redundant to cover the same news here unless you would just like to add your own particular voice on those issues.

You could post filesharing news items that Torrentfreak may not cover.

Quote:"But the US will protect those small countries if they are attacked by other countries. So the price to pay for that is privatization of banks with US investors have control.

That is a good thing..."

You have a lot to learn, my friend.

I will leave you with these thoughts.

Not everyone shares your cavalier sentiments.

Not everyone shares your pro-US views, such as people in Eastern Europe and Russia.

In Eastern Europe and Russia, people have begun referring to the US military as "ugly".

This came up most recently during the US-directed Defender 20 military exercise.

By "ugly", people are not referring to their appearance. They are referring to their behavior, the trouble they stir up while they are around, and the trouble that usually follows them.

I would say that estimation of the American government is an accurate one, in general.


No matter which government administration is in charge, right or left, the "ugly" remains.

It is now a corrupt juggernaut that is entirely out of control.

Who is the chief meddler of the world?

Who is trying to police the world?

Who is fomenting war and conflicts all over the globe?

Who is bringing the most tyranny (freeDUMB - delusion, debt servitude) to the Earth?

Who is willing to lie, cheat, steal, destroy, and kill over resources (i.e. oil, natural gas, minerals)?

Who is willing to lie, cheat, steal, destroy, and kill for Israel?

More specifically, who causes the most trouble over copyright issues?





The CASE Act?

Who is presently advocating for breaking encryption?

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