ZAGREB, June 8, 2018 – Russia’s Ambassador to Croatia Anvar Azimov said on Friday that Sberbank was prepared to play a positive and constructive role in the ailing Agrokor food and retail conglomerate and that it had the resources and potential for that, calling on internal and external forces to not put up obstacles in that regard.
Sberbank is ready to play a very positive, constructive and stabilising role. We call on internal and external forces not to put up obstacles, Azimov told reporters when asked to comment on the US ambassador’s recent statements regarding Agrokor.
U.S. Ambassador to Croatia, W. Robert Kohorst, on Wednesday said that, in order to avoid unfavourable scenarios while trying to reach an agreement on a settlement plan for Agrokor, not one group of creditors should have more than 10% of voting rights in the company.
After a settlement is reached with Agrokor’s creditors, Sberbank would obtain a 30% ownership share in the new company that is expected to emerge. Sberbank and another Russian state-owned bank, VTB, would jointly hold about 45% of the shares in the new company.
I don’t think it is good for the ambassador to offer advice on that matter. We from Russia never do that. I am a professional and am aware of that, and he isn’t a professional diplomat but a businessman. I therefore believe that he is trying to exert pressure or interfere. Let American banks come and save Agrokor. But they aren’t doing it. Russian banks are prepared to do it. I am certain that they will stabilise the situation, they have the resources, the potential and the expertise, Azimov said.
Speaking about the LNG terminal project on the island of Krk, Azimov said that Russia did not have anything against a liquefied natural gas terminal in Croatia but that it would not be able to compete against Russian gas and that the EU and Croatia would always need Russian gas.
Asked about Croatia’s plans to build a floating LNG terminal on the island of Krk, Azimov said that there was a difference in the price of gas and wondered why Croatian businesses would buy the more expensive gas from the LNG terminal. It would be more normal for them to buy Russian gas, he said.
According to Azimov, this year Russia will supply two billion cubic metres of gas to Croatia, which accounts for 60% of Croatia’s needs for gas. We don’t have any problems with the export of gas to other countries but I am absolutely sure that the EU and Croatia will always need Russian gas, Azimov said after the economic forum “Zagreb – St Petersburg”.
We never change contracts. As for Americans, I don’t know. They are practically threatening the EU with a trade war. And they are strategic partners. I believe that Russia should be the EU’s strategic partner, said Azimov.