Monday, 20 December 2021

Fortenova CEO Fabris Perusko Reveals Plans for 2022, Including Investments

December the 20th, 2021 - Fortenova CEO Fabris Perusko has spoken out about what this gigantic Croatian company of strategic importance's plans are for the year 2022, including investments and more.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Fabris Perusko writes, back in 2020, we learned how to work and live within the circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic, in 2021, unfortunately, we were shown that such needs weren't going to be solely limited to 2020. The continuation of the global pandemic, shocks in supply chains, demand, rising energy and raw material prices, the growing threat of climate change and demands for the global adoption of a sustainability model that will save the planet… all of this constantly changed business conditions and required almost daily adjustments.

However, despite such pronounced external influences, the Fortenova Group has experienced quite the special year, at least according to Fortenova CEO Fabris Perusko, who has referred to 2021 as a year that was transformational. Throughout nine months of Fortenova's operations, the huge company further increased its profit and generated an impressive 1.3 million kuna in net profit compared to the loss realised back during the same period last year.

As such, 2021 has definitely been a historic year for the Fortenova Group, even without adding the significant implementation of several important capital and financial consolidation projects, the key of which were the sale of the Frozen Food Business Area for 615 million euros and the transfer of Mercator to the Fortenova Group.

The transaction with Nomad Foods, which is entering the region's market for the first time through Ledo, Frikom, Ledo Citluk and some other smaller companies, has been declared the business of the decade in Southeastern Europe by the media and by analysts alike, while the transfer of Mercator in 2021 saw it finally consolidated into the ownership of Fortenova.

Previously, just two years after the implementation of its own financial restructuring, the Fortenova Group had fully refinanced Mercator's borrowing from as many as 55 banks, conducted a public offering and increased its ownership in Mercator to more than 90 percent.

''We expect that soon, after the payment of the remaining small shareholders, we'll have 100 percent ownership in Mercator,'' stated the confident Fortenova CEO Fabris Perusko.

Looking forward to 2022, Fortenova has a total planned investment of as much as 130 million euros, and that will be one of the significant investors in the economies of the countries in which it operates. Namely, the company is facing the realisation of several very important investments in its production companies, and the first of them is in the Jana plant in Gorica Svetojanska, where the most advanced technology for the aseptic line has already been installed, and where refreshing soft drinks will be bottled.

Large investments are also in the pipeline for both Dijamant and PIK Vrbovec, and a strong investment cycle will be launched in the retail sector by opening up new and re-arranging existing stores, as well as the digitalisation of the retail sector across the entire region. At the same time, after the regional retail of the Fortenova Group was merged with the transfer of Mercator, the company can expect to see the strong effects of synergy processes and continued consolidation in this area throughout 2022.

For more, check out our business section.

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Fortenova Group Selling Cibona Tower, Former Seat of Todoric's Agrokor

October the 19th, 2021 - Following a name change to rid the company of its negative associations, the famous Cibona tower, the former seat of the formerly untouchable Ivica Todoric's all powerful Agrokor is now up for sale. The attractive space may well be appealing to many, but for many Croatian businesses, bad energy may dominate and throw a spanner in the works for a quick sale.

It seems a lifetime ago that the potential collapse of Agrokor was the single biggest threat to the Croatian economy. It seems like a much smaller concern in comparison to the economic situation of 2020 caused by the pandemic, but back in 2017, Ivica Todoric's alleged wrongdoing dominated the domestic media space. Fortenova Group, formerly Agrokor, has done an enormous amount of work to reshape what was a crumbling business on the very edge of total collapse, and under Fabris Perusko, the business side of things has recovered rather remarkably.  

Hard work has been done to ''rinse'' the company, only this time not of money, but of bad associations following a tremendous scandal involving former top dog Ivica Todoric and various other individuals, including some big government names. Now the Cibona tower in the City of Zagreb is up for grabs.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Fortenova Group has started selling off business premises located within the famous Cibona tower, the former headquarters of Todoric's Agrokor, which looms imposingly over its surroundings. 16 of the 21 floors of the building, which are majority owned by Fortenova Group, are now on the market, writes tportal.

The Colliers agency, which mediates in sales, emphasises that this is a ''famous office building'' in a prestigious location in the centre of Zagreb. According to their estimates, investors could achieve a rental yield of 7 to 9 percent per year, with the possibility of significant capital gains on top of that.

A total of 5,827 square metres of space is for sale, which includes 16 floors of office space and 65 garage spaces, which makes up about 76 percent of the skyscraper's area.

In addition to Fortenova Group, which has a 76 percent stake, the co-owners of the Cibona tower are CI-MED, which holds 10 percent, and Elektroprojekt, which owns 14 percent.

Currently, 35 percent of the advertised space is rented by various users.

For more, follow our dedicated business section.

Thursday, 20 May 2021

Croatian Fortenova Group and Cotrugli Business School Create Programme

May the 20th, 2021 - The Croatian Fortenova Group and the Cotrugli Business School have teamed up to create a special educational programme to further enhance the professional competence of the Fortenova Group's employees.

As Jutarnji list/Novac writes, as part of the programme to improve the knowledge and skills of its employees (DRIVE Beyond Excellence), the Croatian Fortenova Group, in partnership with experts from Cotrugli Business School, has developed the Navigate programme.

The programme is designed to strengthen the professional competencies of the Fortenova Group's employees so that they can invest in their own development, the strategic goals of the company and more easily overcome new business challenges.

The first generation of Navigate participants consists of 35 employees of the Croatian Fortenova Group and its operating companies. Through fourteen months of training, they will go through seven thematic units through which they will have the opportunity to strengthen their leadership skills, think about possible improvements in the company, gain new, practical organisational knowledge and, through all this, further mobilise their teams and organisations. An integral part of the programme is a specific project from the business of the Fortenova Group, on which participants will work with the sponsorship of one of the executive directors.

In order to adapt the entire programme as much as possible to the environment in the Croatian Fortenova Group and to the projects that take place in the operating companies, the content of the DRIVE programme for future participants will be designed based on feedback, suggestions and ideas from students who have already passed through it. Therefore, the participants from the first generation of the DRIVE programme will also be ambassadors of that programme in the future.

On the occasion of launching DRIVE Beyond Excellence educational programme, Fabris Perusko, CEO and Board Member of Fortenova Group said: "We want to be not only the largest but also the most desirable employer in the region with this significant investment in expanding the knowledge of our employees. We consider this to be one of the key elements in achieving this goal.

I personally believe that building systematic support that will enable talent, personal growth and development is extremely important for what kind of employer we'll be considered as, this also goes hand in hand with achieving all of our business goals. Through a structured approach to strengthening human resources, we're going to create new value for the company and contribute to the creation of a community, which is very important for achieving the ambitious business goals of the Fortenova Group.''

"Being an educational partner in this important project is an exceptional pleasure for us and we're looking forward to the realisation of all  of theset goals. This trust motivates us to, in accordance with the mission of the school, encourage our students in their continuous development in order to contribute to the development of their organisation and society as a whole,'' said Zoran Djordjevic, partner and academic director at the Cotrugli Business School.

For more, follow our business section.

Saturday, 6 February 2021

Martina Dalic Takes Podravka "Throne": My Reference is Agrokor

February the 6th, 2021 - Martina Dalic, perhaps best known for her role in the weird and rarely wonderful Agrokor saga which dominated the Croatian public and nearly sent the economy down the drain just a few years ago, has come to the helm of the Croatian company Podravka following Marin Pucar's premature death.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the corporate, but also very much political news of the week is certainly what many as referring to as the "rehabilitation" of former government minister Martina Dalic by appointing her to the position of President of the Management Board of Podravka.

Martina Dalic was the personal choice of Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, and although the media speculated that some members of the Supervisory Board would oppose it, her appointment was unanimously confirmed by the Supervisory Board on Wednesday. Her term will last until February 2022, because until then the company should have been run by the recently deceased Marin Pucar, who passed away after a battle with an illness.

Although Podravka is two-thirds owned by private capital, pension funds hold almost 49 percent of the shares, and the state has only 24 percent, the company is under "strong pressure" from politics. This, without exception, applies to all policy options, and the “right” to management and staffing is laid from the local to the highest national level. After Pucar's death at the beginning of January, the head of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, Luka Burilovic, the director of Adris Cromaris, Goran Markulin, and a member of the Management Board of Podravka for Finance, Davor Doko, were all in the race for Podravka's proverbial ''throne''.

"Personally, I'm glad that the proposal for my appointment was made by the largest individual shareholder of the Croatian Government, it means a lot to me," said Martina Dalic after the Supervisory Board session. She added that one of the first steps she intends to take will be to get to know the associates and representatives of the workers, but that she is not yet thinking about the reconstruction of the company's management.

Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the record decline experienced by the entire domestic economy, by the end of September, Podravka had achieved revenue growth of 3.3 billion kuna (+ 2.8 percen), while sales revenues in the food and pharmaceutical segment also grew. The annual results for 2020 will be announced on February the 26th.

To briefly recall, former Deputy Prime Minister Martina Dalic resigned back in May 2018 after the Borg affair revealed that she coordinated a group of individuals who wrote Lex Agrokor for the Croatian Government without contracts and official decisions, who were then charged for their consulting services to the now disgraced concern.

Martina Dalic still claims that she did nothing wrong in the Agrokor affair - and she even referred to the work she did regarding Agrokor as a ''great experience and reference''.

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Friday, 9 October 2020

Why Was Former Agrokor Boss Ivica Todoric Found Not Guilty?

October the 9th, 2020 - The name Ivica Todoric has become synonymous with high level corruption and masked deeds in the weird world of Croatian business in which politics tends to mix a little too closely.

The former boss of Agrokor (now Fortenova) has had a wild ride of sorts. From fleeding Croatia to London, where he lived in a wealthy area and was tried by a British court, to being sent back to Croatia and to Remetinec and then released after somehow finding the huge amount of money in cash needed to secure bail. Things were all quiet on the proverbial Western Front for several months as Ivica Todoric's trial loomed.

The former main man of Agrokor, a previously untouchable and somewhat precarious figure who had built Agrokor from nothing into the enormous, strategically important company it later became, was like a dog with a bone in his fight to shed light on the alleged corruption which surrounded the ''kidnapping of Agrokor'' as he so frequently referred to it. He profusely claimed that the many accusations against him were false and that he had plenty of evidence to prove that. He wrote his later somewhat infamous blog from the comfort of his former London pad and went about exposing all and sundry at the Croatian political top of the time, with former Deputy PM Martina Dalic, a favourite target of his, leaving her position amid the claims. You can read more about Ivica Todoric, the only English language translations of his blog and his varying escapades here.

Finally, Ivica Todoric's trial actually began, and he was proclaimed innocent. But why? The presiding judge offered her reasoning for her passing that verdict.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ivana Jakelic/VL writes on the 7th of October, 2020, the Zagreb County Court handed down the first verdict to the former owner of Agrokor, Ivica Todoric and his co-defendants and former business associates for extracting 1.26 million euros from Agrokor through the account of a Swiss company. Ivica Todoric, Ante Huljev, Piruska Canjuga and Nicole de Rossi were all acquitted.

"After the evidentiary proceedings, it hasn't been proven that the accused would've committed the criminal offenses in the manner in which they've been charged. In order to be found guilty, every allegation in the indictment list must be proven. In this procedure, the allegations from the indictment have not been proven,'' explained Judge Maja Stampar Stipic.

''The Trial Chamber found that the money paid was spent on advisory services. The state attorney's office didn't bring any evidence to the table that would contradict that,'' she added. The Council concluded that the engagement of the consulting company benefited Agrokor and that Mercator was purchased after that deal.

"This regarded the realisation of a very successful business venture," said the judge. The prosecution charged the four with extracting 1.2 million euros from Agrokor through the account of a Swiss company for services that were not performed.

Ivica Todoric's co-defendants denied their guilt and claimed that everything that happened was done to get a job done. The Prosecution, on the other hand, considered that the allegations in the indictment had been proven, ie that it was a job that hadn't been performed. They have since announced an appeal against the verdict.

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Thursday, 24 September 2020

Higher Interest in Croatia among Foreign Investors, Conference Hears

ZAGREB, Sept 24, 2020 - There is a markedly higher interest in Croatia among foreign investors, partly owing to EU membership and partly to the business transactions of recent years, Daniel Radic of the KPMG consulting firm said on Thursday at the ''Investing in Times of Uncertainty'' conference.

Companies from the Agrokor system have also put Croatia on the investors' map, he said, adding that he did not see the COVID-19 pandemic as having affected investor confidence.

The conference was organised by the Enterprise Investors fund and the American Chamber of Commerce in Croatia.

Enterprise Investors has been continuously looking for new investment opportunities in the Adriatic region, including Croatia, while the Studenac retail chain has identified potential acquisitions expected to be made by next year, said Michal Kedzia, a partner in the fund.

Enterprise Investors is one of the leading private equity funds in Central and Eastern Europe. Last year it bought the Pan-Pak bakeries chain and Studenac in Croatia, having previously bought the Intersport sporting gear chain.

Kedzia said the fund was looking for new investment opportunities not just in retail but in IT and technology as well.

Asked if the fund was interested in investing in Croatia's Ledo frozen food producer, he said the fund, as a rule, did not comment on transactions.

The question was put because the Fortenova group said this week that it had received a score of non-binding offers for Ledo Plus, Ledo Citluk and Frikom, which make up the Ledo group.

EBRD focused on green investment

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is focused on helping the private sector, notably green investment such as renewables, the food industry and the IT sector, said Miljan Zdrale, head of the EBRD agriculture sector for Central and Southeast Europe.

The EBRD's goal is for green investment to account for 50 percent of all investment by 2025, he added.

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Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Ivica Todoric's New Lawyer is Former USKOK Chief Zeljko Zganjer

What with the global coronavirus pandemic, the threat of economic collapse and the need to reassess the way in which we live our lives, from our basic social interactions to the way we work, you've probably forgotten all about former Agrokor boss Ivica Todoric and his own role in the almost-destruction of the domestic economy.

Yes, Ivica Todoric is still around. He hasn't been forgotten about. His former lawyers, the well known Jadranka Slokovic and Cedo Prodanovic, who famously defended him in front of the British court in London, have stepped down from their positions in Todoric's regard, and now he has someone new fighting his corner...

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 6th of May, 2020, from next week, all of Croatia's legal ''elite'' will return to the scene, as will the many active lawsuits. From Ivo Sanader and Marina Lovric Merzel through to Nadan Vidosevic and, well... the list goes on and on and I'd be here for most of the day if I were to list all of these names. One of the more high-profile trials that will be found in court is the case of the former Agrokor boss Ivica Todoric.

RTL has discovered that Todoric's new lawyer is no less than Croatia's former USKOK chief Zeljko Zganjer. The other is Ljiljana Planinic. For those unfamiliar with USKOK, this institution is a body of the Croatian criminal justice system: The Croatian State Prosecutor's Office for the Suppression of Organised Crime and Corruption/Ured za suzbijanje korupcije i organiziranog kriminaliteta).

"Yesterday, I received a notification that I had been appointed ex-officio defense counsel for Ivica Todoric. It's a factually complex process,'' said the former USKOK boss, and in reference to the now infamous case in which there are 100,000 pages of documents, he said:

"It will take me a long time. I need to sit down and try to study the whole thing,'' he said. Regarding the difference between an ex-officio lawyer and the situation in which someone actually hires him as a lawyer, Zganjer said:

"There's no essential difference. A lawyer must work conscientiously and correctly and with dedication in both cases,''

In regard to the situation with the coronavirus pandemic, but also the Zagreb earthquake, he said:

"It simply came to our notice then. We as lawyers must accept the schedule of hearings. And each of us will do our best to provide legal protection to the extent which is possible.''

For more, follow our lifestyle page.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

ZSE Delists Seven Former Agrokor Companies

ZAGREB, February 18, 2020 - The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) decided on Monday to delist the shares of seven members of the former Agrokor food and retail conglomerate over their failure to meet the transparency obligations under the law and ZSE rules.

The shares of water bottler Jamnica, ice-cream and frozen food producer Ledo, cooking oil producer Zvijezda, news agent's Tisak and agricultural companies Belje, Vupik and PIK Vinkovci have not traded on the ZSE since 1 March 2018 when the HANFA regulator temporarily suspended trading in their shares.

The ZSE said in a lengthy explanation that the companies had repeatedly failed to meet their transparency obligations under the law and ZSE rules, including the publication of quarterly and annual financial statements and their financial obligations towards the ZSE.

In taking its decision, the ZSE took into account the 24 December 2019 declaration by the seven companies that they would not be able to meet the requirements of the ZSE's new rules because they did not have the necessary organisational procedures in place to be able to do that.

More news about the former Agrokor can be found in the Business section.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Todoric Family Struggling to Survive: Humanitarian Effort Launched

After Ivica Todoric revealed publicly that his family is struggling to survive, a Split association will organize a humanitarian effort this Sunday. Citizens can bring food, clothing and other supplies. The president of the association promised that he would deliver everything in person to Kulmorovi dvori on Monday January 20, 2020.

As reported by Lauren Simmonds/TCN, on January 9, 2020; Ivica Todoric, who is awaiting trial in Croatia, has alerted the media that he and his family are struggling to survive. His announcement has provoked quite a response because he was known to have been one of the richest people in Croatia for decades.

His words have been taken seriously by Jakša Bulić, president of the association for national development “Bili cvitak”.

todoric_humanitarian_effort_02.jpg

Bili Cvitak Launches Humanitarian Effort to Help Todorics

Therefore, he has announced a humanitarian effort "Let's Help the Todorics", which will be held on Sunday, January 19, 2020 in Solin. The association calls on all citizens of goodwill to donate food, hygienic supplies, clothing and footwear to Ivica Todorić and his family, according to Dalmacija danas on January 13, 2020.

“We have decided to launch "Let's Help the Todorics" a humanitarian effort for religious citizens and Catholics collect donations and supplies for the Todorics. On Sunday, January 19, 2020 we will collect everything from 10am to 12pm in front of the post office in Solin,” announced Jakša Bulić, president of the association.

Donations Will be Delivered to Todoric Residence on Monday

They group has already participated in various humanitarian efforts, such as an effort to build a school and a water supply system in Ogorje.

Citizens can bring food, shoes, clothing and other supplies, and the president of the association confirmed to Dalmacija danas that he will bring everything in person to Kulmorovi dvori, the Todoric residence, on Monday.

“It is up to Mr. Todoric whether he will accept our donations, but it is important for us as citizens to show our goodwill,” Bulić emphasized.

Follow our Lifestyle page to keep updated on the upcoming trial of Ivica Todoric.

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Ex Agrokor Boss Ivica Todoric Discusses Current Lifestyle as Trial Looms

Ivica Todoric isn't a name anyone has forgotten, nor will they forget it easily. The former Agrokor boss and his dodgy deals which almost saw the country's entire economy pulled to its very knees are yet to be fully investigated, but the clock is ticking. Kulmerovi dvori, in which Agrokor's ex top dog lives, was rented out for weddings, press conferences and other events when Todoric himself was living in London.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 9th of January, 2020, it has now been a full two years since the investigation into the once most powerful Croatian entrepreneur - Ivica Todoric - was first opened, and no indictment has yet been made. Although the Zagreb County State Attorney's Office has broken all deadlines, there is no sanction for them.

The State Attorney's Office has so far spent three million kuna investigating the situation, and while that makes for juicy headlines for newspapers, just what does Ivica Todoric, once one of the most untouchable men in Croatia say for himself now? More importantly, what does he actually live on now? The ex Agrokor boss sat down and spoke with an RTL reporter in Kulmerovi dvori, high above Zagreb, where he still resides.

Asked how he lives today, Todoric replied that it is now more difficult than it was, but that he remains cheerful.

''Our family and friends help us, we don't spend money on anything now, I don't even know what money we'd be spending. We live difficultly, but cheerfully. But you just watch and wait til all this is cleared up, I'll bring a new spirit to this region, to Croatia, I cannot tell you how glad I am about what I managed to do, and how I exposed a criminal organisation,'' Todoric told RTL, likely referring to HDZ and his frequent accusations of them being the real corruptors and destroyers of the former Agrokor (now Fortenova).

When asked if Kulmerovi dvori are still being rented out, the former head of Agrokor said:

''That's what my daughter (Iva) was doing while I was away, she was trying to survive,'' said Todoric, adding that his family was not comfortable at the moment because of all of the pressure still going on.

An investigation into Ivica Todoric, his sons Ivan and Ante and Agrokor's managers was first opened two years ago. The Croatian Government even provided five million kuna to fund the whole affair, but the prosecution is still stuck in the dark, with no charges to report yet, RTL reports.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for more.

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