Business News

Soft-Drinks Maker Fructal Up for Sale

Ljubljana, 18 February (STA) - Brewer Pivovarna Union, which is part of the Pivovarna Lasko group, published on Friday an international call for non-binding expressions of interest for a 93.7% stake in soft-drinks maker Fructal.

The call, open until 18 March, comes after Lasko announced in December it would sell its stakes in retailer Mercator, newspaper publisher Delo and Fructal in 2011 to reduce its debt to around EUR 160m.

The troubled beverage group already issued a call for binding bids for its 23.34% stake in Mercator at the start of February. At the time of the call, open until 9 March, the stake was worth EUR 135m on the Ljubljana Stock Exchange.

The call for Fructal, Slovenia's leading fruit juice brand, envisages two stages, with the second phase involving an invitation to issue non-binding bids.

The Ajdovscina-based Fructal employs around 500 people on the level of the group. It generated EUR 56m in revenue and recorded a EUR 11m loss in 2009.

Fructal was also declared the leading Slovenian brand overall in a recent poll based on votes of consumers and involving 50 top Slovenian brands.

The sale of Fructal follows damages suits recently filed by four companies affiliated with Pivovarna Lasko against former Lasko boss Bosko Srot and his company Atka-Prima, which used to control the group, demanding a total of EUR 116.7m.

The suits came on top of a EUR 13.34m suit filed by the parent company in January over damage caused to the company by Srot in 2008 and 2009.

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