ZAGREB, March 15 Croatia's Prime Minister Andrej
Plenkovic said on Wednesday that his government would make sure
that debt problems faced by food company Agrokor did not
destabilise the country's economy and financial system.
Zagreb-based Agrokor is the biggest food producer and
retailer in the Balkans, employing almost 60,000 people across
the region with an annual revenue of some 50 billion kuna ($7
billion). It is not listed, but shares in some of the companies
it owns fell on the Zagreb bourse on Wednesday on worries about
the parent company's debt problems.
"Agrokor is a big company the responsibility for which
primarily lies on its owner and management," Plenkovic said. "We
are interested that issues related to Agrokor do not have
repercussions on the economy and financial system and will do
everything to preserve stability," he told reporters.
Agrokor has repeatedly said it will keep servicing its
financial obligations regularly as before. But yields on its
bonds, listed abroad, have jumped in recent weeks from around
eight percent to around 30 percent. A major portion of its debt
matures in early 2018.
The company said on Wednesday: "Agrokor is analysing all the
possible options for stabilising business ... we have a support
among investors that are actively involved in the process and we
will timely inform the public about the results."
At the end of September last year, Agrokor had debt of about
45 billion kuna ($6.44 billion) against capital of around 7.5
billion kuna. Agrokor's consolidated 2016 results are expected
in late March or early April.
Analysts have said one option for Agrokor could be the sale
of some of its profitable assets or a change in ownership
structure. Currently the company is controlled by local
businessman Ivica Todoric.
Russian banks, such as Sberbank, are among
Agrokor's major creditors. Local media have reported this week
that Agrokor is again in talks with Sberbank on further
financing, but Agrokor has not confirmed it.
($1 = 6.9900 kuna)
(Reporting by Igor Ilic. Editing by Jan Merriman)