In the case of the Agrokor retailer, the Croatian government is acting in the interest of the country’s economic and financial stability and also wants the consolidation of the concern’s business, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Monday.
Reporters asked him about his position on Russian banks’ signals that they would like to enter Agrokor’s management. He said Agrokor was a private company of big significance for Croatia’s economy, the biggest employer, with 60,000 workers in Croatia and the neighbouring countries, that the government was conducting dialogue and following the situation, but that the responsibility was on the owner and the management.
Plenkovic said the government had talked with many Agrokor creditors and would like to do so with international ones too, adding that the economy minister would talk with suppliers today or tomorrow. He said the government was looking for a solution and that it wanted it “not to have any negative impact on the stability of Croatia’s economic and financial system.”
“We are behaving responsibly and, in everything we have done so far, we have kept the country’s economic and financial stability in mind,” Plenkovic said.
Asked if Croatia’s economy could depend on developments in Agrokor given its GDP share, he reiterated that the government was working on keeping the country’s economic and financial stability and that it wanted the consolidation of Agrokor and its business.
Asked to what extent the government could help a private company, Plenkovic said the government had approached this subject “extremely seriously and responsibly” and that all of its moves took into account the company’s stability and international ratings. “The state is here to care about our citizens and economy, and that’s what we are doing.”
He would not say if it mattered or not, were Agrokor to be acquired, who the acquirer was and where they were from, saying the company still had many internal matters to solve.
Asked if Croatia should fear the expansion of Russia’s influence, Plenkovic said the government saw to the interests of the Croatian state and that the government did not decide where a private company should borrow.
Sberbank first deputy CEO Maxim Poletaev told Bloomberg on Saturday that this Russian bank, as Agrokor’s biggest creditor, did not want to acquire the company. Sberbank and other creditors are preparing a three-month liquidity plan expected to be approved by tomorrow.
Poletaev said they could still not estimate how much additional financing was necessary but that they believed the amount could be significantly reduced after talks with the main suppliers. He said they had hired experts because they wanted to understand why a stable company was in a liquidity crisis. After this main crisis is solved, Sberbank will consider the possibility of a long term restructuring of Agrokor’s debt, he added.
It will probably make sense to sell some parts of the company which are not essential for the core business and to look for investors with huge experience in this industry, Poletaev told Bloomberg.
Agrokor said yesterday its survival was not at stake and that its management was working, together with key investors, on repositioning the corporate system and on defining a new business model that would protect the interests of all Agrokor stakeholders, taking care primarily of employees and their jobs and suppliers and partners./IBNA