LONDON (Reuters) - Food retailer Agrokor [AGROK.UL], Croatia’s largest private firm, has lined up Rothschild [ROT.UL] to advise it on a public listing that could value the business at about 4 billion euros ($5 billion), several sources familiar with the matter said.
The onetime flower trader is seeking to launch an initial public offering (IPO) in 2015 and is set to hire banks early in the year, the sources told Reuters on Wednesday.
A location for the listing has not yet been decided but London is a likely choice, with the deal to be launched before summer, one of the sources added.
Agrokor declined to comment. Rothschild was not immediately available to comment.
Majority owner and president Ivica Todoric founded Agrokor in 1976 as a flower trading business. Agrokor’s acquisitions of food production and agricultural processing businesses have since transformed it into Croatia’s biggest retailer, with almost 60,000 employees and consolidated revenues of 54 billion Croatian kuna ($8.8 billion). The Zagreb-based firm is now Croatia’s leading manufacturer of ice cream, mayonnaise and mineral water, among other products. It also famously bought Konzum, the country’s biggest retail chain, in 1994. Todoric told London’s Financial Times in October 2013 that the company was considering an IPO within two years - one of the former Yugoslav republic’s biggest-ever listings. Last year Agrokor bought a stake in Slovenian retailer Mercator. The deal eventually totaled 544 million euros, which Agrokor hailed as the region’s largest-ever takeover. Retail deals in the equity capital markets have totaled $35.1 billion so far this year, an increase of 46 percent over the same period in 2013, according to Thomson Reuters data. Retail companies from Russian hypermarket chain Lenta (LNTAq.L) to UK discounter Poundland PLND.L have all listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE.L) this year. ($1 = 0.8007 Euros)
($1 = 6.1341 Croatian Kuna)
Additional reporting by Anjuli Davies, Martinne Geller, Arno Schuetze and Igor Ilic; Editing by Clare Hutchison and Mark Heinrich