Thursday, 1 December 2022

Fortenova Profit Reaches Impressive 534 Million Kuna

December the 1st, 2022 - The Fortenova profit has reached impressive figures during the first nine months of 2022, with the growth of all business indicators being helped along by an excellent post-pandemic summer tourist season.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, on Wednesday this week, the Fortenova Group (Grupa) announced its detailed business results for the first nine months of this year, according to which it achieved a profit from continuous operations of 534 million kuna, against a loss of 384 million kuna in the same period last year.

The greatest positive impact on the growth of all business indicators was the aforementioned excellent tourist season which finally took place as normal following two years of coronavirus-induced instability and stress, there were also significant operational improvements which helped the situation and even ongoing inflation did its bit.

In the aforementioned nine-month period, Fortenova profit margins went up, seeing the company achieve a total consolidated income from continuous operations of 30.3 billion kuna, (4 billion euros), which represents a 38 percent increase compared to the same period back in 2021.

Without the impact of the integration of Mercator, the total income from Fortenova's continuous operations is 15 percent higher in comparison to the same period back in 2021. At the same time, the consolidated adjusted EBITDA of that same period compared to last year increased by 22 percent, to 2.1 billion kuna, or 275 million euros.

At the end of September this year, Fortenova profit was eye-watering, with almost two billion kuna resting in its accounts. At the same time, it continued with the process of debt relief.

For more on Croatian companies, entrepreneurs and innovation, keep up with our dedicated business section.

Friday, 11 November 2022

A Week in Croatian Politics - Fortenova, Foster Parents and Schengen

November the 11th, 2022 - This week in Croatian politics, we've had everything from still apparently not really knowing what's going on with Sberbank's shares in Fortenova and talk of the alleged Croatian desire to squash corruption, to more cash for foster parents, a blast from the past with COVID-19 and of course, Croatia's Schengen approval.

The Croatian Government is seeking additional financial help from the European Union following the coronavirus pandemic

With the utterly dire situation being faced by Ukraine following Russian invasion early this year and inflation causing us to have to dig deeper and deeper to make ends meet, the global coronavirus pandemic which rocked the world in 2020 almost seems like a distant memory. The government however is still working on patching up the enormous holes it left in the state budget and now wants additional financial help from the powers that be in Brussels.

Assistance in the amount of 550 million euros from the SURE instrument will be sought by the Croatian Government, and with the decision it recently made on that, it also obliged state-owned companies to pay 60 percent of last year's net profit into the state budget for the year 2022.

Taking into account the increase in public expenditures by 2.2 billion euros from February the 1st, 2020 to the end of April, 2022 due to national measures taken to address the socioeconomic consequences of the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Croatia decided to request additional financial assistance from the SURE Instrument in the amount of 550 million euros, stated Finance Minister Marko Primorac, noting that the SURE Instrument (a European Union instrument for the issuing of temporary support to reduce the risk of unemployment in an emergency situation) provides extremely favourable financing conditions.

He also stated that on October the 25th, 2022, the Council of the EU adopted an amendment to the Implementing Decision of the Council, which approved Croatia's request for additional financial assistance to be paid out in the amount of 550 million euros.

European Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi says there is a will to stamp out corruption in Croatia

Laura Codruta Kovesi stated that corruption can unfortunately be found absolutely everywhere and there are no "clean" countries anywhere in Europe. She added that Croatia is showing its willingness to uncover and investigate criminal acts that harm the financial interests of the European Union.

"There's a myth that I would like to dispel today. If Croatia or Bulgaria or Romania have more cases of corruption that come to light than some other EU member state, it doesn't mean that these countries are more corrupt than others. There is no 'clean' country in Europe. Corruption is everywhere," said Europe's chief prosecutor.

"Here in Croatia, I see the will to uncover these criminal acts, to investigate them, and I think that is very important because when we talk about corruption and the fight against financial fraud, how the authorities position themselves is very important. If they sweep everything under the rug and don't uncover any cases, it doesn't mean that things are clean. I think the number of cases shows that there is political will... And that everyone is doing an excellent job," she pointed out.

She said that all cases are equally important, whether they involve ministers or ordinary people, because everyone is equal before the law and investigations into corruption are conducted in the same way. More than 1,200 cases of corruption are now under investigation by the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO), but she said she couldn't talk about them publicly and couldn't comment on individual cases and cases which are currently under investigation.

It is estimated that the loss from VAT fraud, especially related to organised crime, amounts to 60 billion euros annually across the EU. In the first year of the EPPO's operations, criminal assets worth 250 million euros were confiscated. The EPPO's annual budget otherwise stands at a massive 44 million euros.

The Fortenova saga continues, and it has now come to light that the Dutch court never gave its approval for the sale of Sberbank's Fortenova shares to anyone

The competent Dutch court did not approve the sale of Sberbank's stake in Fortenova to an investor from the United Arab Emirates, claims the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stating that permission was neither sought or issued at any point.

The Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs for an answer to the question of whether the Dutch authorities had given approval for the above transaction. They received an answer that permission was never requested, nor was it issued.

The MVEP states that the ministries will cooperate in order to determine all of the relevant information regarding the violation of the EU sanctions regime which has caused this scandal. It should be noted that the approval for the sale of Sberbank's 43 percent stake in Fortenova was not even given by the competent authorities right here in Croatia.

According to the EU regulation, a possible exemption can be provided for such transactions in the event that the competent authority of that EU member state grants its approval, but considering that the competent authorities here in Croatia and up the Netherlands have not done this, it is likely that the mystery surrounding the Fortenova saga will continue.

The police contact the State Attorney's Office of the Republic of Croatia in regard to the Fortenova situation

Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic recently confirmed that the police have approached the State Attorney's Office of the Republic of Croatia (DORH) regarding the sale of Sberbank's shares in Fortenova. He also pointed out that at the stage when the Council for the Implementation of Sanctions is in session and they are collecting all the necessary information, nobody can give any concrete answers.

When asked if the Arab investor to whom Sberbank sold its stake in Fortenova is coming to Croatia and if there will be a meeting in the government, Bozinovic repeated that he did not know and that there were many things that needed to be investigated and clarified before he could speak on anything.

When asked if the government had received SOA's report on Fortenova, he said that SOA regularly reports to the state and institutions about this and other such matters. When asked repeatedly whether he had received information from the SOA, he answered in the affirmative, but added that he could not reveal anything at this moment in time.

The government increases allowances paid out to foster parents 

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic stated at a recent government session that by increasing the basis for calculating the compensation to be paid out to foster parents and maintenance allowance for the year 2023, an additional step forward will be made for 2,504 Croatian foster parents.

"We are making an additional step forward for 2,504 foster parents and 5,838 beneficiaries in foster families," Plenkovic said, adding that this is a continuation of the increase in financial resources being poured into the field of foster care.

The government provides 160.5 million kuna in EU cash for the construction of a new port terminal in Osijek

The Croatian Government recently secured state co-financing in the amount of 160.5 million kuna for the construction of a bulk cargo transshipment terminal in the Port of Osijek. Government decisions have as such given consent to the Port Authority of Osijek to assume obligations at the expense of the state budget throughout 2023, 2024 and 2025 in the total amount of 160.5 million kuna.

Back in September this year, the Board of Directors of the Osijek Port Authority made a decision to enter into a contract for the construction of a new port terminal with GH Holding from neighbouring Slovenia. The value of the works was determined in the total amount of 143.5 million kuna without VAT, or 179.3 million kuna with VAT, with a deadline of 28 months.

The financial resources needed to settle the anticipated contractual obligations have been secured from the European Cohesion Fund and the State Budget of the Republic of Croatia for 2022 and projections for the years 2023 and 2024.

The new terminal for transshipment of bulk cargo in Osijek will be located on the right bank of the Drava River in the eastern part of the port area, and it will include two new connections spanning a length of 240 metres, the installation of facilities for the transshipment, loading and unloading and transport of goods, an access road which will be 300 metres long, railway tracks with a length of 610 metres, crane tracks and roads with a length of 285 metres, a substation and the construction of the necessary communal infrastructure, according to the State Secretary in the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, Josip Bilaver.

The construction of the brand new Osijek port terminal will reduce traffic congestion in the city centre and the negative impact on the environment and noise, and the safety of ships in the port will increase, he added.

Croatia is given the nod to join Schengen by the European Parliament

Last but by absolutely no means least, the moment we've all been waiting for has finally arrived and Croatia has been given the final nod from the powers that be to join the Schengen zone at long last. This is certainly a moment HDZ is likely to run with as a scamp of their perceived success in Croatian politics.

In his opening address at a recently held government session, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said that the European Parliament had just voted for Croatia's entry into Schengen.

"We are very satisfied with the presentation of the Commissioner, that is, the Vice-President of the EC, who gave very clear and strong support. There were 534 votes in favour of Croatia's membership of the Schengen zone," said the Prime Minister, congratulating Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic and the whole team who have been leading the activities to push for Croatian Schengen accession for the past few years.

"We are moving towards the final steps of the final adoption at the level of the EU Council on December the 8th" said the Prime Minister, adding that "with this, in addition to the decisions already made regarding membership in the Eurozone, Croatia will complete its two goals of deeper integration within the EU with both Schengen and Eurozone entry as of the 1st of January, 2023.

"These are such major capital foreign policy state goals that have now finally been realised, and in the years ahead we will have the opportunity to talk about the fruits of Croatia's additional international positioning," he said.


For more on Croatian politics, make sure to follow our dedicated section and keep an eye out for our Week in Croatian Politics articles which are published every Friday.

Friday, 4 November 2022

A Week in Croatian Politics - Arab Investors, Marijuana and Pay Rises

November the 4th, 2022 - This week in Croatian politics, we've had everything from investors purchasing stakes in Croatian companies that apparently nobody knew anything about, attempts to legalise marijuana, hopes for neighbouring countries to become EU member states, Italians and more drama regarding Zoran Milanovic.

Fortenova claims it was unaware of the approval of the sale of Sberbank's stake to an investor from the UAE, the government says it knew nothing, either

Ever heard of Saik Alketbi? Nobody here has either. The name cropped up for apparently the first time this week in Croatia after the sale of the Russian Sberbank's stake in this massive Croatian company was sold to him. The government also claims it has absolutely no idea about any of this either. To be more specific, a 43.4% stake has been sold to the Arab investor without any approval, with the transaction having been completed on the final day of October this year.

Sberbank, which is the biggest shareholder in Fortenova, is currently under international sanctions due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and it seems that the company hasn't even been officially notified of this stake sale, which is not only difficult to believe but extremely odd. It's worth recalling that the first would-have-been buyer of Sberbank's stake in the company was Indotek from neighbouring Hundary, but it failed in its quest as it didn't get the necessary approvals. The second attempt at a purchase was made by pension funds, but the transaction was halted.

''Sberbank's assets are under sanctions and their sale requires the issuance of all of the necessary approvals by the authorities in charge of implementing those sanctions,” Fortenova said in its statement on this rather bizarre matter.

“Fortenova has no information that further approvals to buy Sberbank's stake have been issued and therefore we don't see how a valid sale could have gone through. Besides, following the pension funds, there has been no due diligence of the company. If sanctions [those against Russia, which encompass Sberbank] have been violated, then a crime has been committed and the company has not participated in it,” Fortenova stated.

Multiple politicians have voiced their views on this topic, believing that something extremely strange has gone on. Politicial figures from the opposition (read not HDZ) are frothing at the mouth at this new opportunity to tear HDZ a new one, stating that it is impossible that after the initial Agrokor scandal from 2017 and now this latest charade with INA, claiming ''they don't know anything about it'' is an excuse which is wearing thin for HDZ.

Marijuana isn't addictive, claims parliamentarian when discussing the new on the substance

Ivana Posavec Krivec (social democrats) has stated that marijuana doesn't lead to addiction. Posavec Krivec's party was the one to propose a new law on exploiting the full potential of hemp in Croatia.

"The use of marijuana isn't harmful, it doesn't lead to addiction, this isn't a question of the use of hard drugs," Ivana Posavec Krivec said in Croatian Parliament during the recent debate on the proposed law of her party. With this, she responded to HDZ's Luka Brcic, who believes that this bill would create an atmosphere where people believe that the use of marijuana is not harmful, which, he believes, isn't the case. He stressed that like any drug, it can be especially harmful for children and young people. HDZ's Mladen Karlic also made sure to warn that the proposed law stipulates that every adult can grow nine flowering female plants for their own needs, which, in his opinion, flings the door wide open for the completely free enjoyment of marijuana and "the entry of drug tourism into Croatia". On top of that, he thinks such a move would result in a significantly higher number of marijuana users.

Posavec Krivec explained that research into marijuana has shown that the cultivation of nine female hemp plants is the amount needed to produce everything needed to relieve pain in seriously ill patients who are using it for relief. She claims that properly legalising and regulating this would prevent such people doing things under the table and purchasing impure things on the market, and it would help boost the domestic economy too. The proposers of the law, Posavec Krivec and Vesna Nadj, both pointed out that hemp has an exceptional economic potential because more than 25,000 different products are produced from it.

"The Club of Social Democrats believes that Croatia must not be at the tail end of European and global trends in the legalisation and liberalisation of hemp in order to exploit its full potential. Croatia must be a country that will be a leader in exploiting all of this plant's significant potential through this law,'' Nadj stated.

PM Andrej Plenkovic says it is in Croatia's interest for its neigbouring countries to join the European Union (EU)

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic (HDZ) stated after the meeting at the Western Balkans Summit 2022 in the German capital of Berlin that it is very much in the Republic of Croatia's interest that all countries in its immediate neighbourhood become members of the European Union, and he praised Germany's efforts in reviving the Berlin process.

"The meeting was very good. I think it's excellent that Chancellor Olaf Scholz decided to continue this initiative that Chancellor Angela Merkel started back in 2014," Plenkovic said after the summit ended. Croatia's energy potential and issues with the political system in Bosnia and Herzegovina were also discussed at the summit.

The Croatian Government finally came to a decision to increase the salaries taken home by those employed in public and state services

The government finally adopted some formal conclusions at a recent session, and the assumption now is that for about 240,000 employees in the public and state sector, their basic salaries and other material rights will be increased in this and the next year. According to the agreement which was finally (and somewhat painfully) reached last Wednesday by the trade unions and Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, salaries for employees in the public and state sectors will increase by six percent from October the 1st this year and by two percent from April the 1st next year.

The plan is also to increase Christmas bonuses from 1,500 kuna to 1,750 kuna, among other similar increases. Out of a total of 11 public and state service unions that were involved in negotiations with the government regarding the base increase of late, nine unions accepted the government's offer, meaning that the conditions for signing the addendum were met because the government's offer was supported by unions that have more than 50 percent of the total number of members of all unions that participated in the negotiations, as well as unions from at least three of the five areas that were negotiated.

The government's offer was still not accepted by the Preporod trade union and the Independent Trade Union of employees in science and higher education, considering that it was an insufficient salary increase for them considering the inflationary pressures we're currently all dealing with.

A six percent increase in the base will cost the state 600 million kuna, and it will be provided through budget rebalancing and redistribution, while a two percent increase will require a slightly lesser sum of 500 million kuna. Plenkovic said that the agreement with the unions testifies that they reached an agreement through a high-quality and open dialogue with the leaders of the unions, which confirmed the government's commitment to social dialogue and the strengthening of social partnership. Plenkovic also stated that their end goal is to support workers and employees as much as possible.

President Zoran Milanovic (SDP) wasn't invited to an important war anniversary

As All Saints' Day was marked, many delegations were present at Zagreb's Mirogoj cemetery. Wreaths were laid and candles were lit by Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, Minister of Croatian Veterans Tomo Medved, Minister of the Interior Davor Bozinovic, and the President of the Croatian Parliament, Gordan Jandrokovic.

"These are the days when we remember the dead with sadness and reverence, especially those who lost their lives during the Homeland War. Over these days, we also think about the suffering of others that we observe, especially over in Ukraine. I hope that all this week, and in all of Croatia's cemeteries, a dignified atmosphere will take hold, and that we'll all remember those who are no longer among us in peace and quiet," said Nina Obuljen Korzinek, Minister of Culture and Media.

"We urge that anniversaries are not misused for political purposes,'' she stated when asked if the tragic anniversary of the Vukovar massacre later this month will end up being  misused for political purposes by certain individuals and groups in Croatian politics.

"What we as a government do and say is aimed exclusively at coming together [to remember]. If someone creates an agenda on divisions, I think people will recognise that, and Minister Tomo Medved clearly emphasised that we as a nation are facing one of the saddest months of the year, especially for the people of Vukovar, Skabrnja and other Croatian cities which suffered heavy casualties back in 1991. We always call for us to come together in silence, with dignity, and that neither anniversaries nor commemorations be misused for any political goals, especially those that cause unrest, discord and divisions in society."

Commenting on the situation with Milanovic not being invited to an important anniversary, Obuljen Korzinek said that "nobody is boycotting anyone".

"We're doing our job responsibly. There are actors in society who only and exclusively have an agenda of inciting hatred, throwing out unacceptable theses and narratives, people will be quick to recognise that. I think that especially from this place we should call for dignity in our behaviour, but also in public communication,'' she said.

The minister didn't want to directly comment on the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the liberation of southern Croatia, to which President Milanovic was not invited. She briefly and simply said that no one would face any issues because of it.

Plenkovic meets with the Italians in Pula, stating that he wants to further strengthen Croatian-Italian relations going forward

During his recent stay in Pula, Plenkovic with representatives of the Italian Union and emphasised their great commitment to maintain and further develop the culture and identity of their national community in these areas.

"The cooperation between the government, the Italian Union and Istria County as a whole can serve as an excellent example for all other national communities across Croatia. We also discussed the framework of our cooperation today, noting that there is a special chapter in the government's operational plan that concerns the activities of national communities," said Plenkovic adding that the goal of both Croatia and Italy is to strengthen their relations and level of mutual cooperation.

The president of the Italian Union, Maurizio Tremul, expressed his satisfaction with the conversation he'd had with the Croatian prime minister, noting that they discussed a number of topics aimed at improving the position of members of the Italian minority population across Istria, and thanked the Prime Minister for the government's support for the Italian national community.


For more on Croatian politics, make sure to follow our dedicated section and keep an eye out for our Week in Croatian Politics articles which are published every Friday.

Monday, 21 March 2022

Russian Fortenova Co-Ownership Ending Following Ukraine Invasion

March the 21st, 2022 - Russian Fortenova co-ownership will be coming to an end following that country's unjustified invasion of neighbouring Ukraine. The Russian Fortenova co-ownership is otherwise through it's largest commercial bank, Sberbank.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Russia's largest commercial bank, Sberbank, will soon cease to be a co-owner of Croatia's Fortenova Group (former Agrokor). Sberbank's 44 percent Russian Fortenova co-ownership stake will apparently be taken over by the Indotek group, backed by American-Hungarian capital, Vecernji list writes.

The majority owner of the Indotek group is Daniel Jellinek, who, at least according to Forbes magazine, ranks ninth on the list of the richest Hungarians in the world. According to Vecernji list, the in-depth recording process to make room for the business move has begun, and insiders expect the transaction to be concluded within a few weeks.

From the Croatian economic point of view, it is important that Indotek is, in both the business and capital sense, very well connected with the American business conglomerate Bohemian Group, which is owned by the powerful and rich American Stryker family.

Until recently, the Bohemian Group was the second largest single owner of Indotek after Jellinek, with an ownership share of 33 percent, and today it still participates with its capital in various Indotek projects. The Indotek Group is one of the leading investment management companies in all of Central and Eastern Europe.

The main activity of the group is the acquisition of real estate/property and corporate receivables, and their investment portfolio makes it one of the most important players in the region of Central and Eastern Europe.

One of the long-term benefits of this transaction which will end Russian Fortenova co-ownership, if realised, stems from the fact that with the arrival of Jellinek as a potential operational partner of Fortenova in the joint acquisition of international brands and opening new markets in the future, the French retail giant Auchan is mentioned, with which Indotek is negotiating strategic cooperation and ownership alliances.

For more, make sure to check out our business section.

Friday, 25 February 2022

Croatian Fortenova Group Successfully Sells Off Zagreb's Cibona Tower

February the 25th, 2022 - The Croatian Fortenova Group has successfully sold of Zagreb's famous Cibona tower. The tower was synonymous with the former Agrokor, and the move has shaken off even more chains of the past for this large company.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Croatian Fortenova Group and the Agram concern have signed an agreement on the purchase and sale of real estate previously owned by the Croatian Fortenova Group within the Cibona business tower in the heart of the City of Zagreb. This regards office spaces spanning the sixteen floors of this well known tower and a garage space, which makes a total of about 6700 square metres. According to the contract, the purchase price will remain a trade secret.

According to the press release, the Cibona Business Tower is one of the most representative business buildings in all of Zagreb. It is located in the centre of the city, in a prestigious and easily accessible location, and from the moment it was built for the Universiada back in 1987 as part of the sports hall complex, it has become one of the city's most recognisable symbols.

"After mostly concluding the sales processes of companies that are not part of our parent business, we focused on the sale of real estate that isn't part of the core business. We are pleased to have found a partner in a very short time who, I'm sure, will provide the necessary investment for this very well-known building,'' said James Pearson, the CEO of Fortenova's Finance Group.

"The Cibona tower is an iconic building of the City of Zagreb and fits perfectly into the real estate portfolio of the Agram concern. Recognising this investment opportunity, we're going to continue to invest in the domestic economy, and this acquisition also goes hand in hand with the 30th anniversary of the successful operation of the Agram concern,'' said M.Sc. sc. Ivana Bratanic, Vice President of the Agram concern.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

Sunday, 3 October 2021

Konzum Takes Over Istrian Miracolo Shopping Chain

October the 3rd, 2021 - Konzum has officially taken over the Istrian Miracolo shopping chain, which the well known Croatian shopping giant has expressed its satisfaction with.

Just four years ago, Konzum was associated with the failing Agrokor, which had fallen into disarray under the leadership of its former boss, Ivica Todoric. What then seemed like rocky times and high seas for the shopping brand which can be found all over Croatia, now seems to firmly be in the past.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, this business move and take over by Konzum has completed 2021's expantion of the retail network across Istria and Kvarner, and as many as 101 stores will be located within that general area.

"It's a great feeling to be in this role again. The takeover of the Istrian Miracolo is just part of a series of good news from Konzum this year in which we're recording very good results, we've had a great season and we are a key player in the integration processes within retail in the Fortenova Group (former Agrokor).

The new thirteen stores and 55 people in Kozum's large family are our new strength in Istria and Kvarner, where we now have over 100 stores. Such a position strengthens Konzum, but more importantly, it ensures quality and secure supply, especially during the tourist season,'' said Zoran Mitreski, President of the Management Board of Konzum when speaking about the company's take over of the Istrian Miracolo chain.

For more information on Croatian companies, investments and more, make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

Tuesday, 3 November 2020

International Players Enter Battle for Croatian Business Takeover

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 2nd of November, 2020, after receiving a series of non-binding takeover bids from Ledo Plus, Ledo Citluk and Frikom, which together with several smaller affiliates make up the Frozen Food Business Area, the Fortenova group decided to proceed to the next stage of sale. This represents a business takeover of enormous significance in Croatia.

"Market testing has confirmed that there is a strong international interest among potential investors in our frozen food business. All qualified non-binding offers come from companies with outstanding investment and operating achievements in the past. We're happy to enter the in-depth recording process with several extremely strong potential partners,'' said James Pearson, the CFO of the Fortenova Group.

"Our ultimate goal, in addition to maximising value, remains the selection of a strategic partner who will make the greatest contribution to the further development of the Frozen Food Business Group. Although we're now entering the in-depth recording phase, the completion of the process still depends on finding a partner who will recognise the full value and potential of this business and its people,'' said Fabris Perusko, the CEO and Board Member of the Fortenova Group when discussing this important business takeover process.

"In order to proactively achieve the targeted capital structure by reducing the company's indebtedness, the Fortenova Group is ready to sell only one segment of its core business, which would potentially be the Frozen Foods Business Group. I expect that the in-depth recording process will be completed by the end of this year, and we'll continue to inform our people and the market in a timely manner about the further development of these events,'' concluded Perusko.

The future owners of Ledo Plus, Bosnia and Herzegovina's Ledo Citluk and Serbia's Frikom, and several other smaller affiliates will be sought between American, Norwegian and Czech investors, who obviously has great interest during the first phase of the process with some of the most attractive valuations in regard to this business takeover.

As has since been learned from well-informed investment circles, the American Nomad Foods (ie its European company), the Norwegian Orkla as major players in the food industry and the Czech private equity fund Emma Capital, which is also present in several different industries, all remain in the second round. Here in Croatia, the Czech private equity fund primarily connects with Super Sport, ie the betting business.

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Thursday, 2 July 2020

Fortenova Group Reports Revenue Growth in 2019 and Q1 2020

ZAGREB, July 2, 2020 - The Fortenova Group, the successor to the Agrokor food and retail conglomerate, earned HRK 24.8 billion in non-consolidated revenues in 2019, an increase of 3.6% compared with 2018, and the good trend continued in the first quarter of 2020 when its non-consolidated revenues grew by 8%, the company said on Thursday.

Presenting the results of last year's operations to holders of depositary receipts, the Fortenova Group highlighted the growth of the two most important performance indicators in 2019 - total revenue and EBITDA, along with strong liquidity reserves thanks to which it entered the year 2020 with a cash position of HRK 1.6 billion.

The Fortenova Group's pro forma consolidated total revenue in 2019 reached almost HRK 24 billion, while consolidated adjusted EBITDA totalled almost HRK 1.7 billion. Given that the group has been operating since 1 April 2019, the presented results are the pro forma consolidated results of the Fortenova Group and the 102 companies in its ownership, excluding Mercator, the transfer of which to the Fortenova Group has not been completed yet.

The group's core segments generated a total of HRK 24.8 billion in non-consolidated revenues in 2019, an increase of 3.6% compared with 2018. At the same time, the non-consolidated EBITDA  of the core segments rose by 13% to HRK 1.9 billion.

All of the group's core segments saw their revenues grow in 2019. Retail and Wholesale generated total revenue of HRK 13.9 billion (+ 3%), Food earned HRK 8.27 billion (+4%), and Agriculture HRK 2.6 billion (+4%).

Fortenova said that the favourable business trends continued in the first quarter of this year, with consolidated revenues, excluding Mercator, reaching HRK 4.8 billion, while adjusted consolidated EBITDA amounted to HRK 93.6 million.

(€1 = HRK 7.563978)

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Ljubljana Court Upholds Decision on Mercator Shares Expropriation

ZAGREB, January 8, 2020 - Ljubljana District Court on Tuesday upheld a decision by the Slovenian Competition Protection Agency (AVK) on the expropriation of Mercator shares owned by the Croatian food company Agrokor, rejecting the appeal in that case as unfounded, AVK said.

AVK said on its website it had received a decision by Ljubljana District Court regarding an appeal submitted by Agrokor against a decision by AVK to temporarily confiscate Agrokor's shares in Mercator in an effort to secure the enforcement of a misdemeanour decision.

"The agency explains that the decision by the relevant court has entirely upheld the agency's decision and rejected the appeal as unfounded," AVK said briefly.

AVK decided to confiscate Agrokor's shares in Mercator on December 16 in an effort to secure the enforcement of the misdemeanour decision to fine Agrokor 53.9 million euro for not reporting concentration with the Costella water bottling company.

Agrokor appealed against the decision on December 24, claiming that it was legally unfounded, unconstitutional, arbitrary and unlawful.

At the time, Agrokor reported Slovenian agency to the Vice-President of the European Commission and EU competition authorities and institutions for the protection of market competition regarding the transfer of Mercator's assets from Agrokor to the new Fortenova group. Agrokor then said that AVK's decision was contrary to the laws and practice in the EU and Slovenia.

Agrokor on Tuesday expressed regret over a Ljubljana court decision rejecting its appeal against a decision by the Slovenian Competition Protection Agency (AVK) on the expropriation of Agrokor's shares in Mercator and said that it would use all legal means to contest the decision.

"Agrokor expresses its regret over the court's decision and will use all available legal means to have the agency's final decision overturned to ensure its ownership rights in Mercator," Agrokor said in a press release.

Slovenia's Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek on Tuesday supported the Ljubljana court's decision to reject Agrokor's complaint as unfounded.

"Slovenia is a law-governed state and its laws need to be respected," Počivalšek said on his Twitter profile.

More Agrokor news can be found in the Business section.

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Slovenian Court Decides on Mercator Shares Expropriation

ZAGREB, January 4, 2020 - Ljubljana District Court delivered on December 31 a decision in the case of the expropriation of Mercator shares owned by Agrokor and sent the decision to Slovenian Competition Protection Agency (AVK), however, the Court hasn't revealed its decision, and the agency says they haven't received the decision yet, reports Slovenia's press agency (STA).

"The Agrokor-Mercator case was decided within 48 hours and the case file was returned to the Competition Protection Agency," said the Court to STA.

The Court wasn't able to provide more information since they don't know if the decision has been delivered to the AVK.

The AKV today stated they haven't received the court decision yet, STA reports.

The agency decided to confiscate Agrokor's shares in Mercator on December 16 in an effort to secure the enforcement of the misdemeanour decision of fining Agrokor 53.9 million euro for not reporting concentration with the Costella water bottling company.

Agrokor appealed against the decision on December 24, claiming that the agency did not have any legal grounds for the decision and that it was unconstitutional, arbitrary and unlawful.

Agrokor reported Slovenian agency to the Vice-President of the European Commission and EU competition authorities.

More Agrokor news can be found in the Business section.

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