A worker stacks cases of Lasko and Union beer in Ljubljana
A worker stacks cases of Lasko and Union beer at Mercator shopping mall in Ljubljana December 20, 2013. A decade ago, with Slovenia cruising towards membership of the European Union, a local brewery called Union caught the eye of Belgian beer giant Interbrew. Union and its larger rival, Lasko, are national treasures in Slovenia, Determined to keep Union in Slovenian hands, the country used every trick it knew to thwart Interbrew's advances. Finally it gifted Union to Lasko, brushing aside complaints from Interbrew and creating a monopoly that to this day controls 80 percent of the Slovenian beer market. Ten years and millions of euros in accumulated debt later, Lasko is one of dozens of companies controlled directly or indirectly by the Slovenian state that face being sold in a fire sale of national assets to steady the country's finances. Picture taken December
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