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Lasko Receives Three Bids for Mercator Stake

Lasko/Ljubljana, 10 March (STA) - Pivovarna Lasko has received three bids for its 23.34% stake in grocer Mercator, the beverage group announced on Thursday. The bidders include Croatian group Agrokor and investment funds Mid Europa Partners and Warburg Pincus.

Agrokor's bid has been anticipated, following recent reports that it may be interested in mounting a takeover bid for Mercator.

Unofficial information suggests that Agrokor has provided pledges regarding policies on suppliers and human resources in its offer.

It is unclear what price the Croatian food and grocery group offered to Pivovarna Lasko, but sources close to the matter said it had been considering a price of between EUR 195 to 230 per share.

Mid Europa Partners, a Hungarian-based private equity group, had already made a bid for Mercator shares last year, when it offered EUR 170 per share for a 10.75% stake being sold by the NLB bank. The negotiations did not end in a deal.

Warburg Pincus is an American private equity firm with more than US$ 30bn in total assets. Its investments include financial services, health care, IT, energy and consumer products.

Pivovarna Lasko published a call for binding bids for its 23.34% stake (878,840 shares) in retailer Mercator on 4 February. The sale is part of its bid to carry out financial restructuring after a failed MBO left it saddled with around EUR 450m in debt.

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