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Mercator Says Talks with Agrokor Off

Ljubljana, 10 March (STA) - Mercator, Slovenia's top grocer, has announced it would not go ahead with talks with Agrokor on its proposal to examine possibilities for it to acquire the Croatian group's grocery division Konzum after it learnt that Agrokor made an offer to purchase nearly 23.34% of Mercator.

There is no basis for talks on Mercator's acquisition of Konzum given that Agrokor has filed a bid to buy an important stake in Mercator, the Slovenian grocer said in a statement posted on the website of the Ljubljana Stock Exchange.

Mercator maintains that it continues to be interested in acquiring Konzum and said it would be willing to start talks on this with Agrokor if the Croatian group were to show interest in such a strategy.

Mercator made the offer to Agrokor, which resulted in an invitation for a meeting between the boards for this week, last week, as speculation grew that Agrokor was mounting a hostile takeover of Mercator.

The letter in which Mercator offers to examine possibilities for Mercator to acquire Konzum was widely viewed by analysts as a defensive manoeuvre from the Slovenian grocer.

In the letter sent to Agrokor, Mercator said it was making its offer based on a strategy of separating food production, which would remain in the domain of Agrokor, from the grocery business, which would come under the umbrella of Mercator.

Since Agrokor's bid to buy 23.34% of Mercator from Slovenian beverage group Pivovarna Lasko runs contrary to this strategy, talks on such a strategy are not possible, Mercator said in today's statement.

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