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Broker Believes Mercator Needs Partner From Its Own Branch

Ljubljana, 15 February (STA) - The chairman of brokerage Ilirika, Igor Stemberger, believes that Slovenia's leading retailer Mercator needs a strategic buyer from its own branch. $Only there I see positive effects and real synergy,$ he told Monday's Delo, commenting on a 36% stake in the company put up for sale by eight banks.

Speaking for Delo's business supplement Delo FT, Stemberger said that the interest in the stake expressed by the state-owned asset management fund KAD made no sense and that the stake in Mercator should not be in the interest of the state.

He believes that Mercator needs a serious buyer, which would have a clear strategy and make the company operate as best as possible. "It is sad that every company in Slovenia gets equaled with national interest", he added.

Stemberger is surprised by Croatian food conglomerate Agrokor, which has submitted the highest bid, as he had expected from Agrokor to act through a financial investor. According to him, their transparent bid is a display of open communication.

Ilirika boss is also surprised by the interest from a big number of financial investors, as he believes that there is no much potential for profit for financial investors, except perhaps for specialists in this area, such as British-German consortium Bain Capital.

According to Stemberger, selling of companies about which ruling politicians always had the decisive word is the original sin of the current economic crisis and indebtedness and inefficiency of the Slovenian economy.

Ever since Slovenia's independence in 1991, assets have been managed and decided on by people who do not have much experience in the economy, which is also reflected in staffing in state-owned companies, he added.

From the state's point of view, a strategic role should only be played by companies which have monopolies or an extremely high market share, which is not sustainable in the long run, Stemberger said.

For such companies, the state should create as competitive environment as possible, and all other companies should not be of strategic interest to the state, he added.

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