Saturday, 28 May 2022

Hrvatska Postanska Banka Celebrates 30 Years With New Acquisition

May the 28th, 2022 - Hrvatska postanska banka has celebrated thirty long and successful years of operations with the acquisition of a brand new bank, Nova hrvatska banka (New Croatian bank).

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the celebration of 30 years of Hrvatska postanka banka's operations comes after a record 2021 in which the bank achieved the best net profit in history in the amount of 202 million kuna, asset growth increased to a massive 27.9 billion kuna, and it enjoyed a capital adequacy ratio of 25.7 percent.

“At Hrvatska postanska banka, we have many reasons to celebrate, in addition to achieving the best business results in history, we've got a new member within our group, Nova hrvatska banka, which is now stabilised and operating successfully. After a successful 30 years of doing business, we're continuing to strongly build the development path of the bank, providing significant support to the economic recovery of the country,'' said Marko Badurina, President of the Management Board of HPB.

The recently held celebration was also attended by Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, who said that he congratulated Hrvatska postanska banka on everything they had done for the Croatian banking system, especially in terms of the bank's distribution, which is very accessible to Croats today. The Prime Minister emphasised the exceptional readiness of Hrvatska postanska banka to integrate Nova hrvatska banka, along with the approach of the Croatian Government and the Croatian National Bank.

Hrvatska postanska banka was first founded in October 1991 with its headquarters in the City of Zagreb, and throughout a history full of milestones, it has continuously strengthened its market presence. It established its first branch in Split in 2003, when the network began to expand rapidly throughout the country, and its presence in Dalmatia was further strengthened by the successful merger of Jadranska banka back in 2019.

With a strong step towards digitalisation which began back in 2014, Hrvatska postanska banka will soon become a leader in digital trends. It was the first in all of Croatia to introduce access to the e-Citizens (e-Gradjani) platform, biometrics for logging in to mobile banking, enabling online account opening, cash withdrawal at ATMs with mobile phones. Thanks to its own network and a partner network of about 1,000 Croatian Post offices, today it is the most accessible bank in all of Croatia.

Hrvatska postanska banka marked its three decades of work in the Republic of Croatia with specially designed activities and socially responsible projects, and it also realised the video series which deals with financial education entitled ''HPB for financial literacy'', which will continue throughout 2022. Continuing the focus on sustainable business and the well-being of the community and its customers remains one of HPB's priority goals for this year.

For more, check out our business section.

Thursday, 4 November 2021

Sberbank Sells Its Subsidiaries in Croatia, CEE Region

ZAGREB, 4 Nov 2021 - Sberbank Europe said on Wednesday that it was selling its subsidiaries in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Serbia, and Slovenia to the Belgrade-based AIK Bank, Slovenia's Gorenjska Banka, and Agri Europe Cyprus Limited.

Sberbank Europe AG signed an agreement with AIK Banka a.d. Beograd, Gorenjska Banka d.d., Kranj and Agri Europe Cyprus Limited for the sale of its subsidiary banks in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Sberbank BH d.d. Sarajevo and Sberbank a.d. Banja Luka), Croatia (Sberbank d.d.), Hungary (Sberbank Magyarország Zrt.), Serbia (Sberbank Srbija a.d. Beograd) and Slovenia (Sberbank banka d.d.), with total assets of EUR 7.329 billion, 162 branches and around 600,000 clients, Sberbank Europe said in a press release.

"Sberbank Europe AG has decided to reduce its geographic presence in CEE in order to focus on key markets and explore new business models. Sberbank CZ, a.s. in the Czech Republic remains under the ownership of Sberbank Europe AG and will continue with its present business model.

"After careful analyses of several options, the transaction with AIK Banka, Gorenjska Banka, and Agri Europe Cyprus Limited resulted to be the most attractive one from Sberbank Europe AG perspective.

"The purchasers have a large regional presence as well as a clear vision of the future development, supporting further growth of the banks and ensuring that the clients will continue to receive services of the same high quality.

"The closing of the transaction is subject to approvals by national and international regulators as well as by national competition authorities and is expected to take place in 2022," the bank said.

This past summer Sberbank said that in the next couple of years it planned to withdraw from the European market as well as sell its majority interest in Fortenova, which includes the Slovenian retailer Mercator.

The Russian bank was the biggest creditor of the now-defunct Croatian agricultural and food conglomerate Agrokor, and after Agrokor's creditors reached a settlement in emergency administration proceedings, Sberbank took over control of close to 40% of assets of Fortenova Group TopCo, a subsidiary of Fortenova Group which took over Agrokor's business.

Sberbank has been present in Croatia since 2012 after Sberbank Europe bought Volksbank International, part of which was Volksbank Hrvatska. The bank has 31 offices and ranks eighth in terms of total assets on the Croatian banking market.

Sberbank Europe AG, based in Vienna, is a banking group owned entirely by Sberbank of Russia. At the end of 2020 its assets totaled €13 billion, it had 800,000 clients, operated 187 offices, and had more than 3,900 employees across Europe.

Make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

Saturday, 5 June 2021

Sberbank Plans to Sell Fortenova in Two Years - Daily

ZAGREB, 5 June 2021 - Sberbank CEO Herman Gref has said the Russian bank's goal with Croatian conglomerate Fortenova Group is to increase its value and exit without losses in the next two years, as reported by the Moscow newspaper Vedomosti, the Jutarnji List daily reported on Saturday.

Gref was speaking about that at an international economic forum in Saint Petersburg and his announcement that Sberbank will sell its share in Fortenova within two years has been carried by Bloomberg, citing the Russian news agency RIA.

Sberbank was the biggest creditor of Croatia's now-defunct conglomerate Agrokor with €1.1 billion and now holds 44% in Fortenova Group, which was formed in April 2019 following a settlement reached by Agrokor's creditors.

Fortenova's consolidated revenue in 2020 totalled HRK 21 billion, while EBITDA was HRK 1.3 billion. It employs 50,000 people and is probably the biggest employer in the region.

Asked for a comment, Fortenova chairman of the board of directors Maksim Poletaev said on Friday that Gref's announcement was a continuation of what Sberbank had been saying since Agrokor was restructured and Fortenova Group was formed.

As a financial investor, Sberbank plans to sell its stake when the company's value grows, he added.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

For more, follow our dedicated business section.

Friday, 5 July 2019

Sberbank: "We're Expanding Our Business in Croatia"

As Bernard Ivezic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 4th of July, 2019, although for the past couple of years, mainly because of the enormous issues within and caused by the Agrokor crisis, the general speculation has been that the largest Russian bank, Sberbank, will eventually leave Croatia, and potentially even leave part of the country's closer region, but on Thursday, Sberbank clearly made it known that they're actively doing the opposite.

Sberbank has concluded an exclusive partnership with the Norwegian company Auka, and has jointly made the world premiere of a new mobile payment platform called Settle in Zagreb.

Csaba Soós, CEO of Sberbank Croatia, told Poslovni Dnevnik that in the last half a year, he has conducted a series of preparations for boosting Sberbank's business in small and medium-sized businesses and expanding its offer to the people.

"Sberbank wants to digitally transform and offer new services and new user experiences on the Croatian market, hence our partnership with Auka's Settle," stated Soós.

Settle is a mobile application that allows for easy mobile payments. For citizens, it's similar to KEKS Pay from Erste Bank, which already has more than 40,000 users, British Revolut, which has more than 20,000 users, and other such services that banks want to offer through Internet banking.

Daniel Döderlein, the founder and CEO of Auka, pointed out that this app is completely free to use.

Settle is searching for its place on the market as an alternative to POS terminals. As all cash registers in Croatia are fiscalised and connected to the Internet, Settle wants to allow for payment and invoicing straight through the internet.

"In order for a small business, a shop, a restaurant or a cafe to use Settle, it's enough for a company that offers a fiscal cash register connects with us, traders can automatically generate an QR code at the till, a Settle user can pay for it immediately from the application, and then get a fiscalised receipt as confirmation of payment,'' said Döderlein.

He added that by the end of the year, the service will be expanded to another three countries, and by the end of 2020, they want to be present on as many as ten markets. Looking at Auka's announcements, it shows that Settle's services will also expand to other aspects of business digitalisation such as e-bidding and e-invoicing.

Settle, allegedly, already has a contracted partnership in Croatia with at least four companies offering fiscal cash registers.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for much more.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Sberbank's Maksim Poletajev Will Be At ''New'' Agrokor's Head

Daniel Boehi, Miodrag Borojević, Paul Foley, Kelly Griffith, Maxim Poletajev, Jullian Michael Simmons, Sergey Volk and Fabris Peruško are a list of names that will enter the ''new'' Agrokor, or Fortenova's management.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 15th of March, 2019, Sberbank's Maksim Poletajev will be the head of Fortenova's board of directors, as was decided upon by the concern's owners during meeting in London, Večernji list writes.

At the moment, this information remains unofficial and should be confirmed at the end of March, when new functions will be recorded in the Court Registry of companies. Namely, on the first day of April, the Fortenova Group, formerly Agrokor, will be chaired by a board of nine directors and an executive board consisting of three members. Daniel Boehi, Miodrag Borojević, Paul Foley, Kelly Griffith, Maxim Poletaev, Jullian Michael Simmons, Sergey Volk and Fabris Peruško, Agrokor's current extraordinary administrator, are already known.

Maxim Poletajev of Russia's Sberbank, will be at the helm of this body which will make all strategic decisions on the involved companies.

This body decides on the selling and acquiring part of the business, appointments, and other major contracts. Along with Poletajev as a representative of Sberbank, the largest shareholder, which has a 39.2 percent stake in the new ownership structure, Sergey Volk will also enter the body, who as a member of the temporary creditors' council has been present within Agrokor since the very beginning of the extraordinary administration process. Both bankers are well acquainted with the opportunities within Agrokor, over the past two years they have become well acquainted with Agrokor's suppliers and most of the owners of major Croatian companies.

In an interview with Večernji list, Poletajev announced that the company, which will continue to operate under Fortenova's name, will boast some powerful management names.

For now, all operating company directors have retained their positions in mirror companies, and some very powerful names are set to enter the board of directors. Miodrag Borojević is certainly one of them. He currently runs the O'KEY Group, one of the leading retail chains in Russia, and also boasts an exceedingly rich career in the sector. He was the director of REWE Italy, which was rescued during his mandate, he has also operated Kaufland's business in Romania, Croatia, Bulgaria, Slovakia and in the Czech Republic.

Foley has valuable long-standing experience in large retail chains and has been leading the large chain of Aldi in his career and is now in the Magnitum Management, a Russian chain where VTB Bank, which owns about seven percent of the new Fortenova, bought and sold shares from February to May 2018.

The board of directors also includes a workers' representative whose name is as yet unknown. The executive board of directors who will operate the company will have three members, Fabris Peruško, Irena Weber and a member who will be responsible for finances, their name is as yet is unknown.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for much more on Agrokor.

Monday, 25 February 2019

Sberbank Focused on Further Stabilisation of Agrokor

ZAGREB, February 25, 2019 - Russian Ambassador to Croatia Anvar Azimov said on Monday the sale of Russian banks' stakes in Croatia's Agrokor was a corporate issue and that he was certain that in the period ahead Sberbank's main accent would be on further stabilising and improving the situation in the food and retail conglomerate.

Responding to questions from the press about the possible sale of Russian state banks' interest in Agrokor, Azimov underlined the positive role of Sberbank and VTB. After the implementation of a settlement for Agrokor, Sberbank will hold 39.2% and VTB 7.5%.

Azimov said their main goal had been to salvage Agrokor, stabilise and restructure it.

All those objectives have been met. The situation in the company is much better now, it's profitable, and Sberbank's job is to make the company even more profitable in the interest of Croatia and its stability, he added.

As for the possible sale of Agrokor shares, Azimov said it was a corporate issue between Sberbank and Agrokor. We in the embassy don't interfere in these things, but I'm absolutely sure that in the months ahead Sberbank's main accent will be on further stabilising and improving the situation in Agrokor, he added.

Asked if Croatia's future LNG terminal would affect its energy cooperation with Russia, Azimov said it would not as Croatia would always need Russian gas.

If Croatia is interested in building an LNG terminal, we can welcome that. Even if it builds the terminal, Croatia will always need Russian gas. Last year we exported more than 200 billion cubic metres of gas to European Union countries and the demand for gas is rising, while at the same time production in EU countries and Croatia is falling, Azimov said.

He said all they wanted was fair competition. I know that the LNG terminal can't compete with Russian gas, which is cheaper, more reliable and better, he added.

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

Friday, 25 January 2019

Will Sberbank Sell Its Stake in Agrokor?

ZAGREB, January 25, 2019 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Friday he had no information that Russia's Sberbank planned to sell its stake in Croatia's Agrokor conglomerate in the first half of this year.

Sberbank vice president Alexander Vedyakhin said yesterday, according to Russian news agencies, that the bank planned to sell its stake in Agrokor in the first half of 2019 and that negotiations with interested buyers were under way.

Sberbank is Agrokor's biggest creditor and, under last year's settlement, its biggest shareholder with a 39.2% interest.

"There's no long-term logic in someone whose business is banking co-owning a company whose business is agriculture, food and retail," Plenković said in Davos. "But for now, we have no information about a sale."

To the government it is important that the settlement be carried through, that Agrokor functions and that people are employed, he added.

On the fringes of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Plenković met with Bosnian Prime Minister Denis Zvizdić, which was their first meeting after last October's general elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Plenković said they talked about government formation in BiH, a reform of its election law, as part of which he said Croat equality was key, and Croatia's support for reforms aimed at bringing BiH closer to the European Union.

Commenting on the Bosniak Party of Democratic Action motion for assessing the constitutionality of the Bosnian Serb entity's name, Republika Srpska, and Bosnian Serb official Milorad Dodik's response to that and threats that the entity would separate from BiH, Plenković said Croatia wanted peace and stability in its neighbourhood. "We don't look favourably on initiatives that can bring that in question."

Dodik has made similar statements before, "but it's important that everyone does the part they have in line with their authority," he said, adding that Croatia respects BiH's territorial integrity.

Speaking of today's meeting with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, Plenković said Croatia was following the turbulence in British politics related to Brexit. "We see that Prime Minister May is fighting to reach a kind of consensus in parliament for the adoption of the withdrawal deal, but the prospects aren't rosy."

A no-deal Brexit would be the worst scenario and everything should be done to avoid it, Plenković said. "Ireland has certain red lines which it has highlighted, i.e. the backstop option to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. That's vital to them and everybody in the EU understands it," he said, reiterating that the ball is in London's court.

More news on Agrokor can be found in the Business section.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Agrokor and Companies to Receive New Names This Year

With the implementation at the Commercial Court in Zagreb, the information that all of Agrokor's future mirror companies, which have thus far been registered as companies under generic names, will officially get new names.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 21st of December, 2018, the new names of companies that will start operating with the completion of Agrokor's creditor settlement are made up of their old names plus an add-on.

For example, Konzum will become Konzum plus following the implementation, Jamnica will become Jamnica plus, Zvijezda will operate as Zvijezda plus, Ledo will be Ledo plus, and so forth. At the transition stage, the headquarters of all of these new companies will be in Zagreb, and upon the completion of the settlement, they will be returned back to the various cities across Croatia in which they currently operate.

Unlike mirror companies, the Agrokor d.d. umbrella company will get a totally new brand name by the end of January and will no longer use the name "Agrokor" at all.

All of these changes are part of the process of implementing Agrokor's creditor settlement, which should be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2019. Meanwhile, Agrokor's extraordinary administration under the leadership of Fabris Peruško and Irene Weber is successfully completing the financial implementation and business restructuring of the company, the results of which are good business results and reports from all major operating companies.

In ten months in 2018, Agrokor's companies had a total revenue of about 20 billion kuna, while operating profit amounted to 1.7 billion kuna. The largest contribution to these positive operating results was given by companies in the food segment, whose operating profit was nearly 70 million kuna higher than the plan, while retail and wholesale companies realised 28.7 million kuna higher operating profit than planned. In the first ten months of this year, Konzum exceeded its projections by as much as 50 percent and realised nearly 430 million kuna in operating profit alone.

On this occasion, Agrokor's extraordinary commissioner Fabris Peruško said, "While 2017 was a year of the painstaking rescue of the collapsed system, 2018 was a positive breakthrough in all respects, from negotiations, the settlement, and validation through international recognition of the [Agrokor's] extraordinary management from the United States and Switzerland, to the excellent performance of the system. 2019 will be a year of even better prospects for all of our companies, employees, and [Agrokor's] new owners.''

Follow our dedicated business page for more.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Poletayev to Stay in Sberbank, Take Part in Agrokor Restructuring

 ZAGREB, December 12, 2018 - Sberbank Croatia on Tuesday dismissed reports that Maxsim Poletayev, an advisor to Sberbank's Management Board chair, was leaving that Russian bank, saying that he would continue to perform his duties in his present post, along with his involvement in Agrokor restructuring.

Sberbank Croatia said that it had sent a denial also to some local web portals that published what it described as incorrect information.

The influential Russian daily Kommersant reported earlier that Poletayev was leaving Sberbank after spending 20 years in the biggest Russian bank and that he was joining the business system of oligarch Oleg Deripaska. According to a report published earlier by the Russian daily, Sberbank, Poletayev and Deripaska's representatives declined comment on Poletayev's transfer.

Poletayev is known in Croatia as the former first deputy to the Sberbank Management Board chair, who in June this year became an advisor to the Sberbank management board chair with the priority task of overseeing the settlement of the situation in Agrokor.

Sberbank is Agrokor's biggest creditor with claims in the amount of 1.1 billion euros. After Agrokor's creditors reached agreement in the process of the company's emergency administration, Sberbank could soon become the biggest stakeholder, with a 39.2% interest.

Last week, Poletayev told Reuters that Sberbank had started receiving bids from various funds, from the United States and Canada to Great Britain, for the sale of its stake in Agrokor.

“All will depend on the price, so far we are studying them,” Poletayev told Reuters.

More news about Agrokor, Croatia’s embattled business giant, can be found in our Business section.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Agrokor: Will Russia's Sberbank Sell Share? It Depends...

You know that old British saying ''It ain't over til the fat lady sings''? Well, you could easily apply that to the ongoing Agrokor saga. Yes, things have calmed down enormously, with the company having made a miraculous turnaround from pre-bankruptcy to regaining its strength and operating normally, but the story isn't over yet.

Fabris Peruško, the current extraordinary commissioner leading Agrokor's administration, stated recently that Agrokor is finally back on its feet, and not only that, but that it still has all the potential to remain one of the strongest and largest companies in this part of Europe.

While Agrokor is expected to return to totally normal business next year, under a different name and with Russia's Sberbank as a majority owner, things still aren't all steady, and this is one of them. 

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 5th of December, 2018, Russia's Sberbank, one of Agrokor's largest shareholders, has already begun receiving bids for its huge share in the Agrokor Group.

Maxim Poletajev, advisor to the CEO of Sberbank, stated that Sberbank has already begun receiving bid for its share from various funds from the United States, Canada, and much closer to home in Europe, from the United Kingdom, according to a report from N1.

"Everything will depend on the price, we're currently considering offers," Poletajev stated very briefly. He also said that Russia's Sberbank was currently in talks with various investors who could potentially take part in refinancing Agrokor's debt.

Fabris Peruško should become the president of the board, Poletajev added.

As the Agrokor story continues to write its own pages and as its former owner, Ivica Todorić, pays a million euros in bail to leave prison and announce his entry into the Croatian political world, it's more and more difficult to predict exactly what will happen next, but in any case, follow our dedicated business and politics pages to stay up to date.

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