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Mercator refinances senior debt

Ljubljana, 30 May (STA) - Companies in the group around retailer Mercator have signed an EUR 80 million agreement with the Russian bank VTB to refinance senior debt, a move the company says will improve its credit rating and confidence in the group.

Refinancing of Mercator's super-senior facility constitutes an expression of "solid support and confidence in the success of the Mercator Group's operations" by VTB, Mercator said in a press release on Thursday.

"The new super-senior facility, amounting to EUR 80 million and at considerably better terms, is an important part of the pursuit of Mercator's long-term strategy," the company said.

Slovenia's largest retailer, Mercator completed the first phase of restructuring in 2016-2017, with the refinancing a part of the second phase of the strategy.

The third stage will include construction of a new logistics centre and "facilitate Mercator's new development cycle that is of vital importance for even more successful performance and long-term development of the suppliers in Slovenia and the broader region."

Mercator is part of the old Agrokor, which is in majority ownership of VTB and another Russian bank, Sberbank. It is unclear if or when it will be transferred to Fortenova, the vehicle onto which the majority of Agrokor's viable assets was transferred, or whether it will be sold.

Mercator ended 2018 with a net profit of EUR 1.6 million in 2018, having booked a EUR 184 million loss in the year before due to depreciation of real estate holdings. Net sales rose 1.2% to EUR 2.18 billion.

The company was supposed to release results for the first quarter of this year yesterday but postponed the release to Friday.

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