April 13, 2018 / 11:19 AM / a year ago

Croatia's deputy PM survives no-confidence vote over Agrokor

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic (C) speaks to media next to Finance Minister Zdravko Maric (R) and Economy Minister Martina Dalic in Zagreb, May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Antonio Bronic/Files

ZAGREB (Reuters) - Croatian deputy prime minister and economy minister Martina Dalic survived a no-confidence vote on Friday prompted by opposition discontent over her handling of the debt crisis in the largest Balkan firm Agrokor.

The opposition, led by the Social Democrats and the centre-right Most (“Bridge”) party, mustered 71 votes against Dalic but needed at least 76 in the 151-seat parliament to remove her.

In the no-confidence motion the opposition said Dalic should have exercised tighter control over those hired to stave off bankruptcy at indebted food concern Agrokor.

Dalic and the government rejected the opposition’s accusations, saying the debt crisis has been handled successfully and they had no knowledge about the details on hiring consultants.

Former Agrokor crisis manager Ante Ramljak resigned in February after the government voiced discontent that his ex- employer had been hired as a consultant on the restructuring programme, thus potentially setting up a conflict of interest.

Agrokor, the largest private firm in the Balkans with almost 60,000 staff, was put under state administration for 15 months a year ago after it buckled following an overly ambitious expansion drive that left it weighed down by borrowing.

Earlier this week Agrokor said its creditors had reached a framework agreement on the future settlement deal which includes debt-for-equity swap, a certain level of write-offs and sustainable debt for the new Agrokor holding. The creditors must vote on the deal before July 10.

Reporting by Igor Ilic; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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