ZAGREB, March 7, 2018 – Economy Minister Martina Dalić said on Wednesday the emergency administration process in the Agrokor conglomerate was in the final stretch and that it should be given time so that the creditors, with the help of the administrator and the consultants, could make the final step, adding that preserving business was the only way for the creditors to collect their claims.
The goal of the emergency administration is to reach a settlement within the deadlines envisaged by law, she told reporters when asked if there was a plan B in case the creditors did not hammer out a settlement.
The emergency administration began two-day negotiations on a first settlement draft with the Temporary Creditors Council in Zadar last night so as to arrive at a final plan by April 10.
Responding to questions from the press, Dalić said a draft settlement was presented last December and that negotiations on it were held with the creditors in January but that, “unfortunately, developments concerning the emergency administrator in February brought (the process) to a little standstill.” She was referring to Ante Ramljak, who recently resigned from the post.
Dalić said the Zadar meeting proved that the emergency administration was working on its settlement plan at an accelerated pace. “It’s now necessary to leave it up to the creditors to discuss all the details of that plan, and I expect that in the following weeks, in the following days, we will hear and see the first results of their talks.”
She said all the creditors had a common interest, collecting their claims through Agrokor’s successful business operations, not just today but in future too. “I believe that’s a very rational element which is not only guiding the creditors in their talks, but is actually the element on which the whole emergency administration procedure is based – preserving business, preserving employment, contributing to the stability of Croatia’s economy, contributing to the prevention of an out-of-control collapse of numerous Croatian companies which could have occurred with Agrokor’s bankruptcy.”
Dalić said there was no need to speculate that the creditors might not agree, because the emergency administration had shown over the past ten months that it was generating results to the benefit of the economy and the creditors. She recalled that outstanding debts were being paid to suppliers thanks to a decision of the creditors council.
Asked to comment on the opposition’s collection of signatures for giving her a no-confidence vote in parliament and polls showing that the public supports such a move, Dalić said the opposition had the right to question the work of those in power. She said “the arguments and the way in which the SDP is doing that are very telling” and that what the party was saying “has a striking similarity to the enormous quantity of lies” said by Agrokor founder Ivica Todorić. She added that the SDP, the strongest opposition party, was “using all this” to divert attention from its own problems.
Dalić said she was confident that citizens would see “the erroneousness” of the SDP’s choices, decisions and arguments and that they could see the results the government had achieved for the national economy thanks to the law on emergency administration in systemic companies. She reiterated that an out-of-control bankruptcy of Agrokor a year ago would have destroyed the jobs in the conglomerate and its many partners and suppliers, pushing Croatia’s economy back into a recession, and that the law had prevented that.