What does the future hold for a foreign owned Agrokor?
Agrokor’s future will be entirely decided upon by its new owners, and Sberbank is the largest owner in which the main man in charge of Agrokor will be Maxim Poletaev, who, until recently, was in the function of vice president of Russia’s Sberbank, the same man who approved what was to be the final 100 million euro loan to the disgraced former Agrokor boss, Ivica Todorić.
As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 5th of July, 2018, in an interview for RTL Direkt, he has revealed the priorities of the new owner of Agrokor and what changes will be with the company’s many suppliers.
“Frankly, that’s not what we wanted, and our main task was to get our loan back after we became the owners of a 40-percent stake in Agrokor, which must first be confirmed by the court, and that’s still not the solution. After the court confirms it and it becomes the legal solution, only then do we become the owners, but again, that’s not what we wanted,” Poletaev reaffirmed.
Considering that the settlement has just been voted through, Poletaev has claimed that before that, Sberbank wasn’t thinking about new management.
“We’re concentrating on the deal with the creditors, and the issue of administration will come later. I’d like to express my enormous gratitude to Croatian consumers, Agrokor, and Konzum’s customers, who, regardless of the situation, whatever the government was doing, remained faithful and purchased from within the concern. As far as the current administration is concerned, Mr. Peruško and Irena are doing a good job, today I also spoke with Mr. Juri Solov from VTB and we agreed that a proper implementation of the settlement should be carried out at this point and not to go to quickly with it,” Poletaev said.
Although some Croatian suppliers fear that with the new, foreign Agrokor owners, Croatian companies could lose their place on Konzum’s shelves, Poletaev has said that nobody should be living in fear of that.
“Domestic suppliers supported Agrokor during turbulent times when things in Agrokor were extremely difficult, and therefore, thanks to them. Common sense tells us to support domestic suppliers who have shown the maximum loyalty. On the other hand, there will certainly be conversations about process optimisation, costs and prices, but it will certainly be a market-based solution that will be based on prices because I have to show that there’s profit to shareholders, rather than losses,” he said.
Along with the Russian banks, the second largest co-owners are to become US funds, and the situation is somewhat questionable when it comes to whether this kind of Russian-American coalition will succeed in dealing with Agrokor’s joint management and business moves, Poletaev made sure to state that things with the Americans have already been agreed upon.
“You know, money is an international matter, neither Russian nor American, and it’s important to agree on the principle of functioning, and that’s equal, profitable, effective, transparent, market capitalisation. The Agrokor example is is a good example of how Russian companies can cooperate and work together with both American and Croatian companies,” Poletaev said.
When asked how much politics, Croatian, Russian, and American, had been involved in this whole settlement process, Poletaev replied that Vladimir Putin had been informed about everything back during time when there was a meeting between him and the president of Croatia, Kolinda-Grabar Kitarović.
“We’ve never received any comments from the state, because the state is only seeking return on capital, ie dividends, taxes, performance indicators, etc. We’ve never been under any pressure or had any recommendation, and in this case, the politicians aren’t interfering, they’re just doing their job,” Poletaev stated.