Sberbank to decide whether to approve new loan to the company.
Creditors of Agrokor are waiting to learn from Sberbank whether it will approve an injection of fresh capital into Agrokor as part of the liquidity plan. That would be a syndicated loan announced preliminary last week, which would mean that majority owner Ivica Todorić has accepted changes to company’s board of directors, reports Večernji List on March 21, 2017.
Suppliers which are owed 16 billion kuna by Agrokor met on Monday and they will also talk today with government’s representatives. While they are trying to find a way how to stabilize Agrokor without investing too much of their own money, Speaker of Parliament Božo Petrov came up with a solution. He would not nationalize Agrokor, but would do a “bail in”. “When the economic system is breaking down, you enter a company, stabilize it, consolidate it, and then you divide it up and sell it”, said Petrov to reporters, not explaining where the state would find the money to pay Agrokor’s debts. Even if the state nationalized Agrokor without paying anything, it would still have to repay 45 billion kuna of debt, and gather in the short term at least 25 billion kuna for urgent loan repayments and suppliers.
Unlike the state, Sberbank has the money. And the leaders of the Russian bank should during the day announce a plan or a decision whether to approve the new loan to Agrokor or not. The Russians have met and talked with Croatian banks that could also provide a loan to Agrokor. The only thing in common for the Russians and Petrov is that they want to remove Ivica Todorić from the key position in the company.
“There are 150,000 people and jobs and more than 5,000 suppliers depending on Agrokor, and when I say we will protect the economic system, that means that we will create models which will protect all those who are not to blame for this situation. And in all of these models, there is no nationalization and there is no Todorić”, said Petrov on Monday. Russians are more conciliatory towards Todorić, Croatia’s richest man, seeking for now only to place their own people in the board of directors to monitor financial flows. This is their precondition for further financing.
While Petrov believes that the government can finance Agrokor’s debt, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković is trying to defuse the situation, emphasizing that Agrokor is a private company in which the state cannot interfere too much. “We will do everything that the Croatian economy and our financial system remain stable, and I expect that Agrokor’s management will make wise and beneficial decisions for the company and for all its partners”, said Plenković.
Five major suppliers of Agrokor’s Konzum – Kraš, Dukat, Vindija, Franck and Podravka – met on Monday to develop a possible strategy, given that some of them sell a third of their products in Konzum stores. They want to protect the stability of their own companies and therefore demand to be involved in all communication about the fate of Agrokor. They will meet with Deputy Prime Minister and Economy Minister Martina Dalić. If the government is talking with financial creditors, then it must know the true state of affairs, say the suppliers who want to know more about the real situation in Agrokor. They believe that the government also knows Sberbank’s plans. “Our goal is the stability of our company and the stability of Agrokor, our largest distributor and selling channel in Croatia”, said CEO of Kraš Damir Bulić. One of the suppliers said that communication was most important at this time.