Sportina in talks with United Group, but denies being sold

Ljubljana – Slovenian clothes retailer Sportina is in talks with telecommunications group United Group to enter strategic cooperation in the field of online shopping. It thus denied the business newspaper Finance’s report that United Group was about to buy it. United Group did not comment.

“Neither Sportina Group nor its owners have received from United Group any proposal for or expression of interest in buying debts or entering the company as an owner,” Sportina wrote in a statement for Finance on Monday.

“Sportina Group’s strategic goal is to encourage the development of online business with own channels as well as making partnerships with leading online players.

“We can confirm that talks are in the final stage on strategic cooperation between United Group and Sportina Group on Shoppster”, an online shopping portal United Group runs in Slovenia.

Sportina got indebted during the financial crisis, and entered a preventive restructuring in 2014, having to withdraw from tourism and selling its property.

A banking source told Finance that Sportina had managed to repay some of its bank creditors and that the bulk of its debt now comes from leasing.

Finance said Sportina, owned by businessman Bachtiar Bajrović, was in trouble as shops had been closed for several months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the reasons for Sportina’s financial trouble was said to be Sportina’s poor online sales platform, while synergies with United Group would come from Shoppster.

Apart from Shoppster, United Group, whose majority share was acquired by British fund BC Partners in 2019, also owns telecommunications provider Telemach and has recently announced its plan to set up a web portal, N1.

Sportina sells several different brands in a network of its shops, which are not its property but are leased, in Slovenia and much of SE Europe.