October 16, 2017 / 4:06 PM / 10 months ago

Sberbank wins first court case against Croatia's indebted Agrokor

ZAGREB, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Russian lender Sberbank has won the first court case of several it had filed for the repayment of debt by Croatian indebted food and retail conglomerate Agrokor after a court in Bosnia approved the sale of its stake in a Bosnian company.

The court in the central town of Kiseljak has ordered that the 41.18 percent stake Agrokor’s water bottling company Jamnica holds in the Sarajevski Kiseljak company, should be used as a collateral for the payment of the company’s debt, Jamnica said in a filing to the Zagreb Stock Exchange on Monday.

Agrokor, the biggest employer in the Balkans with around 60,000 staff, was brought under state-run crisis management after suffering a liquidity and debt crisis.

The motions were filed by Sberbank branches in Slovenia and Croatia and the court approved collaterals worth 67.4 million Bosnian marka ($40.7 million) each.

“The execution is determined through the confiscation, assessment and sale of the shares owned by Jamnica in Sarajevski Kiseljak,” Jamnica said in the filing, adding it would appeal the ruling.

No-one at Sarajevski Kiseljak was immediately available to comment.

Sberbank has also launched legal proceedings against Agrokor in Slovenia, Serbia, Montenegro, England and Wales, as well as in Croatia.

But while Slovenia and Croatia have passed laws protecting their economies from the Agrokor fallout and Serbia undertook protective measures, Bosnia is the only Balkan country that has not introduced any measures to shield its companies which are part of the conglomerate.

Agrokor has yet to make public the overall amount of debt claims against the company. Creditors include suppliers, bondholders and banks, with the biggest portion of debt, around 1.1 billion euros, held by Sberbank.

On Monday, Croatian police arrested Agrokor’s six former senior executives during a series of police raids in an investigation into alleged financial irregularities at the company. (Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic in Sarajevo; Editing by David Evans)

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