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Balažič Stays Mercator CEO, Agrokor Only Makes Minor Changes

Ljubljana, 18 September (STA) - The supervisors of Mercator, who were appointed in August after the takeover of the retailer by Croatian rival Agrokor, reappointed Toni Balažič the company's chairman on Thursday. Also staying on the board, which has been reduced from four to three members, are Drago Kavšek and Igor Maroša.

The team, which was first appointed in 2012 but so far also included Croatian member Stanka Pejanović in charge of SE European markets, will start a five-year term on Friday, Mercator said after the session of the supervisory board.

In the new term Balažič will be responsible for the management of the Mercator group and for retail management in Serbia and Montenegro.

Kavšek will be in charge of finance, accounting, control, IT, telecommunications and subsidiaries Mercator-H, Mercator-BL and Mercator-BH, while Maroša will be responsible for operations within Mercator trgovina Slovenija and the group's non-core activities.

In line with the acquisition agreement, which was executed in June, the supervisory board also appointed its representative on a special committee responsible for monitoring the honouring of commitments related to the sale.

This will be Darko Knez, who is joining Balažič, workers' representatives Vesna Stojanović and independent expert Nenad Filipović of the IEDC - Bled School of Management.

Agrkor has committed among other things to respecting workers' collective rights, to consulting unions on workforce issues every three months for at least three more years, to keeping its headquarters in Ljubljana for at least ten years and to preserving an equal position for existing Slovenian food producers for at least three more years.

Agrokor paid just over EUR 172m for a 53.12% stake in Mercator held by a consortium headed by brewer Pivovarna Laško in a deal closed on 27 June. It then went on to publish a takeover bid offering EUR 86 per share, which valued the outstanding stake at EUR 152m, but only managed to increase its stake to 80.75%.

Under a debt restructuring deal with creditor banks, the Croatian food group also secured Mercator a subordinate loan of EUR 220m for recapitalisation and working capital.

Mercator says that the stabilisation of the ownership structure is already having a positive effect on operations. It reported EUR 1.3bn in sales revenue for the first six months at group level and an operating profit of EUR 11.8m.

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