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MOSCOW May 26 Russia's biggest bank Sberbank
will provide no new financing for indebted food and
retail company Agrokor until the lender has reached an
understanding with the Croatian government, Sberbank's chief
executive said on Friday.
Sberbank is a major creditor to Agrokor, the biggest
employer in the Balkans, which is battling to avoid collapse
after running up multibillion-dollar debts.
In a move to avert the bankruptcy of country's largest
private company, the Croatian government in April appointed a
crisis manager at Agrokor to oversee a debt restructuring,
adopting emergency legislation to contain the fallout.
Sberbank CEO German Gref said cooperation with the Croatian
government had so far been "not simple".
"You shouldn't adopt a law which deprives creditors of their
rights post factum," Gref told reporters in Moscow.
He said Sberbank planned to hold talks with the Croatian
government next week.
In response to a question about the possibility of legal
proceedings against the Croatian government, Gref said: "I would
not like such an inquiry. Lord save us from such a thing. But
today we held talks with the main creditors. All of them are
Sberbank previously said it was ready to go to court if
necessary to recover more than 1 billion euros ($1.12 billion)
it had given to Agrokor in loans.
"If they (the Croatian government) took on responsibility
for the running of the company, then they should also take on
responsibility for its debts. Let them give a sovereign
guarantee for those debts," Gref added.
"If they aren't ready to do that, then that means they
should return to normal market practice."
($1 = 0.8947 euros)
(Reporting by Kira Zavyalova; Writing by Alexander Winning;
editing by Susan Thomas)