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Istrabenz Shareholders Endorse Droga Kolinska Sale

Portoroz/Koper, 24 August (STA) - The shareholders of insolvent holding Istrabenz on Tuesday endorsed the sale of the food division Droga Kolinska to Croatian company Atlantic Grupa. The deal is to be finalised by the end of the year.

Istrabenz needs the money to pay the creditors in the process of court-mandated debt restructuring. It hopes to get around EUR 235m from the deal.

The agreed value of Droga Kolinska is EUR 382m, but the purchase money will be reduced by the net financial debt of the food company on the day of the closure.

The approval of the sale and transfer of the 100% stake in Droga Kolinska was backed by 99.984% of the total of 84.68% of shareholders with voting rights present at the vote.

The approval was needed because the interest in Droga Kolinska exceeds 25% of Istrabenz's assets.

The managements of Istrabenz and Atlantic Grupa signed the sale agreement on 30 June. Istrabenz owns 88.95% of Droga Kolinska.

It will purchase the remaining shares from Droga Kolinska and NCA Investment Group, based on forward contracts with Factor banka and Probanka.

Istrabenz chairman Tomaz Berlocnik and chief supervisor Janez Groselj argued then that the sale of Droga Kolinska was the most plausible realistic option for the company to secure funds to settle its liabilities.

By the end of the year, Istrabenz needs to pay 18.6% of the creditor's claims as on 8 July 2009, which makes for EUR 85m or, along with interest close to EUR 100m.

Signing the deal, chairman of Atlantic Grupa Emil Tedeschi said the Croatian company was entering Droga Koliska as a strategic partner, with the aim of providing for development of Droga Kolinska as a whole.

He said the all of Droga Kolinska's five key product lines would be developed, and the brand names retained, while some other Droga products that were successful in the past would be revitalised.

Tedeschi also said the new owner did not plan to move production from Slovenia, but would also develop additional production facilities in Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia.

The acquisition of Droga Kolinska will make Atlatnic Grupa, whose main business is sports food production, a leading food chain in SE Europe with projected revenues of EUR 650m and 4,300 employees.

Droga Kolinska made EUR 5.95m in net profit last year.

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