Bloomberg News

Slovenia Gets 4 Bids for Mercator as Industry Consolidates

October 19, 2011

(Adds Agrokor’s offer starting in third paragraph.)

Oct. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Slovenia received four non-binding bids for the majority stake in Mercator Poslovni Sistem d.d., the largest supermarket chain in the Balkans, as the industry consolidates.

Three offers for the 52 percent holding in the Slovenian company that is being sold by banks in Slovenia and other shareholders came from financial investors, while the fourth was from a “strategic investor,” ING Bank NV in London said, according to an e-mailed statement today from Nova Ljubljanska Banka d.d. in Slovenia.

Agrokor d.d., Croatia’s largest private company, made a non-binding offer for Mercator that values the Slovenian retailer at 832 million euros ($1.15 billion), according to two people familiar with the matter. Agrokor offered 221 euros per share for half of the Ljubljana-based company. If chosen and after clearing the regulatory hurdles, Agrokor would have to extend its offer for the rest of the shares under Slovenian law.

Agrokor is trying to widen its reach in other former Yugoslav republics as competition increases. Brussels-based Delhaize Group SA, the owner of Food Lion supermarkets in the U.S., bought Serbia’s Delta Maxi Group, the biggest chain in that country.

The Croatian company, which expects revenue to expand 8 percent this year amid rising meat sales and a good performance from its Serbia unit, attempted to purchase its Balkan rival before. The last attempt to acquire a 23 percent stake was in April when private equity groups Mid Europa Partners Ltd. and Warburg Pincus LLC also made an offer to Pivovarna Lasko Group d.d. That transaction was blocked by the Slovenian regulator in a matter not related to Agrokor’s bid.

--Editor: Andrew Atkinson

To contact the reporter on this story: Boris Cerni in Ljubljana, Slovenia, at bcerni@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jmes Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net


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