The Slovenia Times

First Major MBO Trial


Kordež and former board members Marta Bertoncelj, Janja Kraševec and Milan Jelovčan have been charged with abuse of office and not exercising due care and diligence.

The trial will center on the a chain of transactions involving a Merkur shopping centre, which is however indicative of the entire buyout procedure.

The shop was bought by Merfin, the conduit through which Merkur managers carried out the highly leveraged buyout.

The money for the deal was provided by Merkur itself, whereupon Merfin sold it on to another company that ended up selling it back to Merkur.

Investigators believe Merfin unlawfully gained nearly EUR 10m in this one deal alone.

The boss of one of the companies involved in the chain transaction, Oto Brglez or builder Kograd Igem, will join the quarter in court.

The deal has also earned Kordež and his associates a civil lawsuit from the current Merkur management.

It was through such deals involving Merfin and other conduits that the former Merkur management sought to finance the entire EUR 530m buyout.

The buyout went wrong when the economy plunged into recession, causing Merkur to stumble due to a mountain of debt that the buyout left it saddled with.

An audit carried out last year found that the buyout caused Merkur, which is now in court-mandated debt restructuring and is majority owned by banks, EUR 200m in damage.

The trial is probably the first in a series of similar proceedings, as multiple investigations involving similar deals are ongoing.

It also marks the final phase of the battle with "tycoonisation", as Kordež is the first of several disgraced corporate bosses likely to stand trial over failed MBOs.

At least two other former executives, Boško Šrot of brewer Pivovarna Laško and Igor Bavčar of conglomerate Istrabenz, also face possible court cases related to failed MBOs but the investigations have not yet been completed.


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