Sberbank to Auction Off Seized Mercator Shares

Total Croatia News

The shares used to be owned by one of the Agrokor companies in the Netherlands.

Russia’s Sberbank, which is the Agrokor’s largest creditor, will sell its 18.53 percent stake in Mercator at an auction on 7 July. The bank announced that it expects to receive at least 40.53 million euros for the shares, reports Jutarnji List on June 23, 2017.

“The minimum auction price will be 40.53 million euros, and the sale will reduce Agrokor’s debt to us,” said the bank in a statement. Agrokor’s total debt to Sberbank is more than a billion euros.

The Slovenian daily Finance, in which Sberbank published an invitation for the auction, reported on its website that the Slovenian state would not participate in the auction, citing Slovenian Minister for Economic Development and Technology Zdravko Počivalšek.

Earlier, a debate ensued in the Slovenian media regarding whether or not Mercator should be returned to Slovenian ownership due to the crisis in Agrokor. However, there has not been an opportunity for this, nor was there a potential buyer who could actually execute such a plan so far. Mercator used to be the pride of the Slovenian economy and its sale to Croatia’s Agrokor was considered to be an insult to national pride.

The bank had the right, as Sberbank explains, to seize Mercator’s shares, which Agrokor gave as a deposit earlier in order to receive a loan from the Russian bank.

The 18.53 percent share of Mercator was owned by Dutch company Agrokor Investment B.V., owner by Ivica Todorić, who is the majority owner of Agrokor.

Agrokor d.d from Croatia currently holds 69.57 percent of Mercator shares. This part of its ownership is protected by “Lex Agrokor”, which the Croatian government adopted a few months ago in order to prevent the collapse of Croatia’s largest privately-owned company. However, the Dutch company, although owned by the same person as the majority of Agrokor, is not covered by the said law and therefore its shares in some of the businesses that are part of the wider Agrokor group can be seized and sold by creditors.

In April, Sberbank’s boss German Gref announced that the bank would allocate as a reservation half of the amount owned by Agrokor, which means that it accepts that the return of this amount is potentially questionable. The decision was further confirmed in May.

The total amount of Agrokor’s debts is not yet known, but it is expected to be at least 40 billion kunas (more than five billion euros).


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