February 27, 2018 / 2:29 PM / 2 years ago

Croatia names new crisis manager at Agrokor

FILE PHOTO: Agrokor logo is seen at the company's headquarters in Zagreb, Croatia, March 22, 2017. REUTERS/Antonio Bronic/File Photo

ZAGREB (Reuters) - The Croatian government named Fabris Perusko as the new crisis manager at indebted food concern Agrokor [AGROK.UL], with his main task being to settle claims amounting to close to $10 billion with creditors by the middle of July.

Perusko, who has professional experience in restructuring businesses, has been working as a management board member of newspaper retail chain Tisak which is part of Agrokor.

Former crisis manager Ante Ramljak stepped down last week after the government voiced discontent with the fact that the company where Ramljak previously worked had been engaged as a consultant in Agrokor’s restructuring process.

Unlike Ramljak, Perusko will have a deputy crisis manager, Irena Weber, who has so far worked as a consultant in Agrokor for non-core businesses.

“Perusko has adequate professional experience for this task. I believe he is ready to lead Agrokor’s restructuring process toward a successful settlement deal,” Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic told a cabinet session.

Agrokor, the largest private company in the Balkans with some 60,000 staff, was put under state-run administration last April for a period of up to 15 months.

The restructuring process is focused on a deal with creditors which should yield a combination of a new sustainable debt and equity. The creditors include the foreign and local banks, bondholders and suppliers.

The overall claims against Agrokor amount to close to 60 billion kuna ($9.92 billion) which is almost half of Croatia’s total budget revenues. The biggest single creditor is Russia’s Sberbank (SBER.MM) with a claim of more than one billion euros.

Reporting by Igor Ilic; Editing by Keith Weir

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