Mercator Management Steps Down
The proposals for the shareholders' meeting, which is scheduled for today, showed that the majority owners do not trust the management or the supervisory board and the management cannot work in such conditions, Debeljak said.
"The times are too serious and too challenging, the management wants Mercator's development to continue, but the owners will have to take responsibility for that from now on," he pointed out.
The management board, which apart from Debeljak consists of Melita Kolbezen, Vera Aljančič Falež, Stanka Čurović, Peter Zavrl and two assistants, Aleš Resnik and Jože Sadar, is ready to continue to perform its duties until 30 September, but can also leave earlier if the owners want, Debeljak stated.
The decision was made a day before shareholders are to discuss changes to the supervisory board and potentially increase its powers.
Media speculated that all supervisors, who are supportive of Debeljak, would be replaced at today's shareholders' meeting.
According to economist Jože Damijan, the management stepped down to avoid dismissal. Speaking for a late night news show of commercial broadcaster POP TV, Damijan refused to speculate on whether the sale of Mercator will go through under the new management. He said it was impossible to predict such things because politics could intervene at any time.
The latest attempt at selling the majority stake in Mercator, owned by banks and the heavily indebted beverage group Pivovarna Laško, fell though because Agrokor dropped its bid due to pressure from the state for the share not to be sold.
Debeljak took over at Mercator at the beginning of 2006 after the then supervisory board dismissed the management board led by Zoran Janković, now the president of the opposition positive Slovenia (PS) and Ljubljana mayor.
During Debeljak's term, Mercator revenues went up from some EUR 1.7 in 2005 to almost EUR 3bn in 2011. Net profit was up only slightly, while the number of employees surged by almost 47% to 24,000.
In the 2005-2011 period, Mercator took over several companies in the region. Last year, more than 44% of sales revenues was generated abroad. Mercator is among the top retailers in Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.