September 6, 2019 / 2:59 PM / 18 days ago

Croatian food group Fortenova hopes $1.3 bln bond issue marks start of new era

ZAGREB, Sept 6 (Reuters) - Croatian food company Fortenova Grupa, formerly known as Agrokor, issued 1.157 billion euros ($1.3 billion) in four-year bonds on Friday to refinance a loan it took out in 2017 to avoid bankruptcy.

Agrokor was put into state administration in April 2017 and rescued after a settlement deal between creditors a year ago. The new owners changed the company’s name to Fortenova last April.

“By this arrangement Fortenova has completely refinanced the loan and secured mid-term stability and long-term sustainability. Now we enter a new business phase with a focus on boosting profitability,” Fortenova’s Chief Executive Officer Fabris Perusko said in a statement after the bond issue.

The bond has an interest rate of 7.3% plus Euribor, the company said.

Agrokor’s expansion drive fuelled by high and expensive debt took the Balkan region’s biggest company by sales to the brink of bankruptcy.

The loan it took out in 2017 was extended last year and was due to mature this month. It has had a progressive interest rate of up to 14%.

The new bond issue was arranged by U.S. fund HPS Investment Partners and Russian bank VTB.

$1 = 0.9057 euros Reporting by Igor Ilic; Editing by Susan Fenton

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