Ljubljana, 16 March (STA) - Semenarna Ljubljana, Slovenia's biggest seed producer, has officially been sold to the Ljubljana-based company Villager, part of the Serbian agri-food group Agromarket. The seller, the small private bank Deželna banka Slovenije (DBS), has confirmed that the transaction, whose value has not been disclosed, was wrapped up last Friday.
The deal, which the newspaper Delo reported in February was worth EUR 5.5 million plus the claims held by the Slovenian bad bank, transfers all of Semenarna's Kalia garden centres and existing contracts to the new owner. Delo reported DBS would get roughly EUR 2 million.
DBS head Marko Rozman is convinced the investor is the strategic owner the bank already knew would be needed when DBS "saved Semenarna from certain receivership in 2015".
DBS, which started looking for a buyer last year, said all of Semenarna's workers would keep their jobs under Agromarket.
The Kragujevac-based group, which is owned by Serbian businessman Dušan Mojsilović, is primarily active in SE Europe and generated EUR 250 million in revenue in 2019 from sales mostly involving agriculture.
Villager director Dejan Radšel said the goal was to continue to develop Semenarna, both in the retail and wholesale segments, as well as its brands and production. The Kalia centres are meant to be upgraded and the chain expanded to other countries in SE Europe.
With the news raising concerns about the future of Semenarna's Selection and Testing Center in Ptuj, DBS said the seller as well as the buyer were aware of the national importance of the centre, which is why both are striving to keep it Slovenian-owned or make it state-owned. The contract lays down a timeline for a transfer to a third party, the bank said.
Radšel also said that the "more than 100-year tradition of Semenarna compels us to continue preserving indigenous Slovenian varieties and thus contribute to the the wealth of Slovenian genetic material".
Semenarna Ljubljana director Gregor Kopriva commented on the transaction by saying DBS and the Semenerna management had shared the view that a new owner was necessary given Semenarna's debt and complex business model.
"We believe that Villager as the new strategic owner will first of all provide financial stability for Semenarna and in the future also successful long-term operations and growth," Kopriva said.