March 17, 2017 / 10:07 AM / 2 years ago

CORRECTED-Croatia's Agrokor secures loans from Sberbank -report

(Corrects figure in para 3 to 45 billion kuna instead of 45 million)

ZAGREB, March 17 (Reuters) - Croatian food group Agrokor, which is under government pressure to clear up its debt problems, has secured a 300 million euro ($323 million) loan from Russia’s Sberbank, one of its creditors, local media reported.

Agrokor is Croatia’s biggest private company and the prime minister said on Wednesday that his government would ensure that its debt problems did not destabilise the country’s economy and financial system.

The food producer and retailer had debt of 45 billion kuna ($6.5 billion) against capital of around 7.5 billion kuna, according to latest available data from last September. A major portion of that debt will mature in early 2018.

“In the last two weeks Agrokor agreed with Sberbank loans worth 300 million euros, which is enough for paying its obligations towards suppliers and the state,” the Vecernji List daily reported.

Agrokor was not immediately available for comment.

Bond investors have become increasingly concerned this year about Agrokor’s financial position and the transparency of its accounts.

Analysts say the company expanded its business too aggressively and relied on risky borrowing. One option for Agrokor could be the sale of some of its profitable assets or a change in ownership structure, analysts say. The Zagreb-based company is currently controlled by local businessman Ivica Todoric.

It employs nearly 60,000 people across the Balkans and had an annual revenue of 50 billion kuna in 2015. It is not listed but its assets include ice cream producer Ledo and mineral water producer Jamnica.

Sberbank is one of Agrokor’s major creditors.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Wednesday urged Agrokor’s management to make “wise and useful” decisions as soon as possible.

Agrokor said on Wednesday that it was considering options for stabilising its business. According to the media reports, the company has hired a foreign consultancy to help. The yields on Agrokor’s foreign bonds, maturing in the next few years, have jumped to above 30 percent in recent weeks from around 7-8 percent in early January. ($1 = 0.9289 euros) ($1 = 6.8790 kuna) (Reporting by Igor Ilic; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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