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Mercator Chief Supervisor Hopes Takeover Clear by End of January

Ljubljana, 16 December (STA) - The chief supervisor of retailer Mercator, Matej Lahovnik, hopes it will be clear by the end of January whether the takeover by Agrokor will be carried out. If it fails, he expects the shareholders to wait a couple of years before trying to sell again, he told Monday's edition of Delo.

There has been a lot of speculation lately that the Croatian conglomerate Agrokor does not have the money to pay for the EUR 240m takeover, rumours that have led to massive losses for the Mercator share on the Ljubljana Stock Exchange.

Mercator is currently trading at EUR 70 per share, compared to the takeover price of EUR 120.

"I think they have the money, they've already invested a lot of time and money and that has been a heavy burden on them," Lahovnik said.

He noted that the sales agreement has three preconditions: EBITDA of EUR 100m, long-term loan restructuring agreement, and clearance from competition watchdogs.

The first two have already been fulfilled and the third one will likely be realised as well, Lahovnik noted.

If the takeover proceeds, Mercator's share will rebound to close to EUR 120 quickly; if not, it can drop further, according to Lahovnik.

If the takeover fails yet again, like it has several times before, Lahovnik expects the shareholders to wait two to three years so that the company can complete the restructuring procedures.

But Mercator need to be restructured in any case, whether or not it is acquired by Agrokor, he said.

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