The Slovenia Times

Politics Again Interfering in Takeover of Mercator


While Dragonja has not studied the sale of Mercator yet, he stressed that it was important to decide whether a strategic partner is wanted, whether it would secure development and growth of the company, and how much it is willing to pay.

Touching on the extended deadline for the execution of the deal with Agrokor, Dragonja believes that the vial question is whether Slovenia wants to have its own company in retail or not.

"This has to be decided by those who are selling their products through the retailer. It has to be harmonized with the current owners," he stressed.

Dragonja moreover told the STA on Monday that he would do everything for the procedures to move ahead in line with the law and Slovenia's economic strategy.

Slovenia's economic strategy still needs to be harmonized, however. "Sadly the coalition has not yet harmonized its priorities regarding the branches in which Slovenian economy should develop further. Harmonizing the strategy is a priority at the moment," he explained.

Moreover, the minister believes that timing as regards the capital markets is far from perfect for selling the 53% stake in the retailer.

According to Dragonja, the country should establish a situation in which producers would have an optimal approach to the market. It is why the buyer's commitments in these areas are vital, he added.

Additionally, Dragonja believes Mercator's debts are problematic as well, given that they would have to be taken on by the buyer. The buyer's rating is also important, he noted.

Touching on one of the companies in the consortium selling Mercator, brewer Pivovarna Laško, Dragonja believes that its debt is not the main issue in the sale. According to him, the company may lack the incumbent government's support due to past mortgages linked to former Laško boss Boško Šrot's management buyout.

He moreover believes that Mercator should continue repaying its debts regardless of the outcome of the sale. This would secure a better negotiating basis with the banks, Dragonja noted.

Židan meanwhile told the STA that the procedure of selling Mercator was worrying, while he would like to see a buyer that would consider Slovenia's company as a strategic investment.

Agrokor is not the right buyer, especially because it is itself a food producer. This could lead to negative consequences for Slovenian producers, according to Židan.

Moreover, the minister finds it "incomprehensible that sales procedures are continuing while the buyer does not provide the needed money or adequate bank guarantees". He added that Agrokor was moving closer to its wishes, while he had the feeling that Mercator's owners "did not fight for Mercator and better sale criteria".


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