Bloomberg News

Croatia’s Agrokor Must Finish Belje Takeover, Regulator Says

October 06, 2011

(Updates with analyst’s comment, background from second paragraph.)

Oct. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Agrokor d.d. Croatia’s largest private company, must complete the takeover of its agricultural facility, Belje d.d., following the 2005 acquisition of a majority stake, the country’s market regulator said.

Agrokor, which bought more Belje shares in 2007, now owns 67 percent of the eastern Croatian agricultural plant. The regulator’s decision has an immediate effect, while Agrokor can file a complaint to the administrative court, the regulator said today in a statement on its website in Zagreb.

The purchase, which may cost Agrokor as much as 100 million euros ($134 million), may present an obstacle to Agrokor’s plans to acquire a majority stake in Slovenia’s Mercator Poslovni Sistem d.d., said Petar Brkic of Abacus Brokeri d.d.

“This decision probably signals the end of Agrokor’s plan to take over Mercator,” Brkic said by phone. “It affects Agrokor’s stability and the banks that have supported the plan concerning Mercator will have to take this obligation into account.”

Agrokor will probably have to offer about 300 kuna per share, the price of Belje’s stock when Agrokor’s “obligation originated in 2007,” according to the regulator. Belje’s shares closed at 70 kuna per share today.

Mercator Interest

Agrokor repeatedly said it is interested in submitting an offer for a majority stake in Llubljana-based Mercator, the region’s largest supermarket chain.

Agrokor has already secured about 700 million euros ($951 million) in a syndicated loan from a group of European banks, including Deutsche Bank AG, Societe Generale SA, UniCredit SpA, Intesa Sanpaolo SpA, Erste Group Bank AG, Raiffeisen Bank International AG and UBS AG, the Ljubljana-based newspaper Finance said on Sept. 28.

Slovenian banks and other Mercator investors in August appointed ING Bank NV to advise on the sale of just more than 50 percent of Mercator with the process likely to be completed by the end of the year.

--Editor: James M. Gomez

To contact the reporter responsible for the story: Jasmina Kuzmanovic in Zagreb at jkuzmanovic@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for the story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net


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