Business News

Sale of Majority Mercator Stake Finalised

Ljubljana, 26 June (STA) - Croatian food group Agrokor is on the verge of completing the acquisition of a 53% stake in Mercator, with the consortium of sellers of the shares in Slovenia's top grocer announcing that the transaction would be carried out on Friday.

The Croatian food group, whose bid for Mercator was accepted by the sellers already in June 2013, but which subsequently had to secure sufficient financing, will pay around EUR 550m for the stake.

Both the sellers and the buyer are in agreement that the transaction is to be carried out on Friday, the leading seller, beverage group Pivovarna Laško, said in a statement on Thursday.

The announcement comes four months after Agrokor and the consortium of sellers reworked the takeover agreement as part of which the price of shares was lowered and instead funding provided to bolster Mercator's finances.

The two sides agreed at the time to conclude the takeover by 30 June.

According to unofficial information on the reworked takeover agreement, Agrokor is to pay the sellers EUR 86 per share (instead of the EUR 120 initially offered), which amounts to EUR 172m for the 53% stake.

Under Slovenian law, it will have to publish a takeover offer for the remaining shares at the same price or better, which values the entire stake at EUR 325m.

The Croatian group will also provide EUR 225m in capital to Mercator, of which EUR 200m will go to repaying debt and EUR 25m for operating capital.

The announcement signifies the conclusion of years of efforts to offload Mercator by Laško and several banks, including the state-owned NLB and NKBM.

It also comes amidst a resurgence of opposition to the takeover by Agrokor in Slovenia, which had prevented the Croatian food group from acquiring the stake already in late 2011.

Leading the charge against the sale in recent weeks have been trade unions, the food sector and a number of political parties.

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