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Merfin Creditors Become Owners of Merkur

Kranj, 19 October (STA) - Several creditors of management buyout vehicle Merfin expectedly auctioned off their confiscated stakes in troubled hardware retailer Merkur to themselves on Tuesday, in effect replacing Merfin as Merkur's owners.

A total of 240,729 Merkur shares or 18.34% of the share capital - confiscated as collateral for loans to the company set up by Merkur managers who carried out a leveraged buyout and saddled the company with debt - were auctioned today with a starting price set of EUR 11.6m.

Brokerage GBD confirmed it had become the owner of the 3.4% stake it had confiscated, while investment firm H&R said it was the owner 4.5%.

The auction was also labelled a success by telecommunications company Iskratel, which sold 7.6% of Merkur, whereas cement maker Salonit Anhovo, which was selling 2.7%, was not available for comment.

GDB Group head Ani Klemencic said the creditors will be happy only when Merkur is a successful company again. "There has been talk of this for four months and Merkur's shelves could have gotten much fuller in the meantime."

Today's auction came after Hypo Alpe Adria Bank International called off its auction for a 25% stake in Merkur last Friday, postponing it until 28 October.

The expropriation of the Merfin managers, who got a hold of 58% in Merkur with the help of loans insured with the retailer's shares, is allegedly a key point in the talks between Merkur, creditors, owners and suppliers with respect to restructuring.

The list of Merfin creditors allegedly does not end with those who have announced or carried out auctions so far.

Merkur declared insolvency on 16 September and launched debt settlement proceedings soon after. It needs to put forward a restructuring plan by 26 October.

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