The Slovenia Times

Laško, Banks Gear Up for Renewed Attempt to Sell Mercator


Laško and the banks NLB, Banka Celje, Abanka Vipa, Banka Koper, Gorenjska banka, Hypo Alpe-Adria bank, NKBM and the NFD Holding have already drafted a consortium agreement for the sale, according to unofficial information obtained by the STA.

According to well-placed sources, the would-be consortium would feature the same entities who unsuccessfully attempted to sell a 52.1% stake in Mercator months ago.

With a 23.34% stake in Mercator beverage group Pivovarna Laško is again expected to head the consortium of sellers of the grocer.

Laško chief supervisor Vladimir Malenković indicated following last week's session of the supervisory board that the beverage group was looking to revive the consortium.

The banks are meanwhile tight-lipped about the possible revival of the consortium. NLB and Abanka refused to comment, while Hypo Alpe Adria confirmed interest in finding a strategic partner for Mercator while not going into details.

Information of the revival of the consortium has emerged nearly six months after Laško and the banks failed to sell their 52.1% stake in Mercator to Croatian food and retail holding Agrokor.

While Agrokor had put forward a bid of EUR 221 per share, valuing the deal at around EUR 430m, which was largely viewed as favourable, pressure on the sellers not to sell to Mercator's Croatian rival contributed importantly to killing the deal.

Since then shareholders of Mercator have tightened their control of the company by appointing a new management following the resignation of the board headed by Žiga Debeljak, which was staunchly opposed to the sale to Agrokor.

Moreover, Croatian media recently suggested that Agrokor was again gearing up to come forward with a takeover bid for Mercator, with reports saying that a new offer could be published in September.

According to the reports, Agrokor is not expected to match its previous offer in a new bid. Nevertheless, it is expected to provide a takeover premium on the price of EUR 115 that Mercator shares are currently fetching on the Ljubljana Stock Exchange.


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