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By Marja Novak
LJUBLJANA, June 15 Slovenia, which is struggling
to avoid a bailout, will sell its largest employer, food
retailer Mercator, to Croatian food producer and
retailer Agrokor, Agrokor said in a statement late on Friday.
Agrokor said it will pay 120 euros per Mercator's share,
valuing the company at 452 million euros ($602.96 million).
Later this year the Slovenian government, which does not
directly control Mercator but has stakes in companies and banks
that do, plans to sell another 15 firms, among them telecoms
Slovenia has so far been the only ex-communist state that
has kept control of major banks and a number of large firms but
now sees privatisation as a way to boost state coffers, improve
corporate governance and avoid the need for international
Agrokor said it signed a deal with 12 of Mercator's owners
to buy their combined 53.12 percent stake in Mercator for 240
"The transaction pends upon regulators' approval ... and is
expected to be completed this year," it said, adding it will
later this year offer to buy the remaining shares of Mercator in
line with Slovenia's regulations.
It said the new company will have a revenue of 7 billion
euros and will employ 60,000 people.
Early last year Agrokor was offering 221 euros per
Mercator's share, according to the media, but the sale collapsed
because Mercator's former management refused to let it carry out
($1 = 0.7496 euros)
(Reporting By Marja Novak; Editing by Michael Perry)