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Transfer to Fortenova close as loan deal signed to restructure Mercator's debt

Zagreb, 16 April (STA) - The Croatian group Fortenova and Slovenian retailer Mercator have signed a contract under which the latter will get a EUR 385 million loan to restructure its debt to creditor banks, in a move that further enables the transfer of the Slovenian retailer from the bankrupt former owner Agrokor to Fortenova.

Fortenova announced on Friday that Mercator's debt to a total of 55 banks would be replaced by the group's bonds, based on which the US fund HPS Partners and the Russian bank VTB Europe will secure EUR 385 million for restructuring.

"After the bond-issuing procedure is finalised, Mercator shares will be transferred to the Fortenova group," added the group that will become the owner of a 88% stake of Mercator, after which it is expected to publish a takeover bid.

Fortenova CEO Fabris Peruško said on the occasion the restructuring of Mercator's debt eliminated one of the key problems that had pressed the company's operations since 2014.

"Mercator's debt is now part of the debt of the Fortenova group, and with it all members of the group have the same credit and ownership status," he said, adding that this proved that Fortenova was actively managing its portfolio.

The deal was approved by the Fortenova shareholders in mid-March, after which a 18.53% stake in Mercator owned by Sberbank was transferred to Fortenova, resulting in the Russian bank's stake in the Croatian group increasing from around 39% to 44%.

This comes after the Serbian competition protection authority cleared the transfer to Fortenova, which means the group has met all regulatory preconditions for concentration approval in Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and North Macedonia.

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