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Block of Mercator Shares to Be Ready for Sale Next Week

Ljubljana, 20 May (STA) - Major shareholders of Mercator will sign an agreement on a joint sale of more than 50% in Slovenia's biggest retailer expectedly by the end of next week. The sale could be completed by the end of the year, coordinator for the sale Cvetka Selsek told the STA on Friday.

Selsek, the chairman of the board of directors of the French-owned SKB bank, said that the interest among prospective buyers was considerable, but that the buyers were waiting for the block of shares to appear on the market. Once the block is officially on the market, prospective buyers will increase their activities, she said.

Her comments come after beverage company Pivovarna Lasko announced on Thursday that it would join the consortium of banks selling a major stake in Mercator to offload its 23.34% stake in the retailer.

The sellers are keen to start the sale process as soon as possible, also because of Pivovarna Lasko, which is in a difficult financial situation and urgently needs fresh funds. It will also enable the banks to agree refinancing for Lasko, Selsek said.

Lasko has run up EUR 450m in loans as a result of a botched management buyout attempted by its previous management headed by Bosko Srot. The bulk of loans are due for payment at the end of June.

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