May 31, 2018 / 3:33 PM / 5 months ago

Croatia's Agrokor wins creditors' support for debt settlement deal

ZAGREB, May 31 (Reuters) - Croatia’s indebted food group Agrokor has secured the support of a majority of creditors for a debt settlement agreement by which all the firm’s assets will be transferred to a new company owned by creditors, manager Fabris Perusko said.

Agrokor, the largest company in the Balkans with 60,000 staff, was put under state-run administration in April 2017, crippled by debts built up during an ambitious expansion drive.

Last week, Agrokor’s crisis management team said Agrokor would be taken over by a new Dutch-based company owned by creditors that will be called Aisle Dutch TopCo.

Perusko said that Russian bank Sberbank, Agrokor’s biggest creditor, had agreed to swap an 18.5 percent stake in Mercator - which is owned by Agrokor - for a stake in the new company. This will allow Sberbank to increase its stake as part of restructuring process.

Sberbank, with loans worth 1.1 billion euros ($1.3 billion), is set to become the biggest single shareholder in the new company.

The debt settlement must be finalised before the Commercial Court approves it, Perusko said. Two-thirds of the creditors need to adopt the debt settlement agreement by July 10 to avert bankruptcy.

“A large number of creditors came to a compromise in this process and agreed to write off debt in order to provide for the company survival and future operation,” said Perusko, without elaborating.

Croatia’s deputy prime minister Martina Dalic resigned on May 14 under pressure from opposition groups who accused her of failing to prevent conflicts of interest during the restructuring of Agrokor. (Reporting by Ivana Sekularac and Maja Zuvela. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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