April 10, 2017 / 8:20 AM / 6 months ago

Croatia govt nominates head of Agrokor restructuring process

ZAGREB, April 10 (Reuters) - The Croatian government on Monday nominated Ante Ramljak to head the restructuring of food producer and retailer Agrokor which is aimed at averting the bankruptcy of the country’s biggest private company.

“This (case) is a top political, economic and financial issue for Croatia. Ante Ramljak is an expert with experience in investment banking and consultancy. We have made sure so far there are no major negative effects on the economy,” Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic told an extraordinary cabinet session.

“Our goal now is to stabilise Agrokor’s operations in the coming days and the second step will include its restructuring for which we will also seek an adviser,” Plenkovic said.

Ramljak’s nomination will require approval by the Zagreb commercial court which is expected very soon.

He is expected to assemble a team of experts and advisers to steer the process which will likely involve a cash injection from a group of banks and the refinancing of debts to creditors and suppliers.

Six banks said on Monday they were working on a cash injection as quickly as possible. The banks include Russia’s lenders Sberbank and VTB, which are Agrokor’s biggest creditors.

Agrokor owner Ivica Todoric requested the government enact an emergency law, adopted last week, which is designed to save big companies in trouble and protect the country’s financial system and economy.

Agrokor employs around 60,000 people in a number of companies across Balkans, most notably in Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia and Bosnia. Its rapid expansion has left Agrokor with debts of some 45 billion kuna ($6.41 billion), or six times its equity.

$1 = 7.0257 kuna Reporting by Igor Ilic; editing by Jason Neely

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