Koper, 17 March (STA) - Amid reports that NKBM as another state-owned bank is withdrawing from the sale of its stake in retailer Mercator, Prime Minister Borut Pahor said on Wednesday that the government is not indifferent to whose hands Mercator ends up in.
Speaking at a meeting with business executives from the western region of Primorsko, Pahor said that the government would like a strategic partner that will develop the company and not abuse it for short-term gains.
Moreover, the government wishes, as far as this is within its power, to see that room is secured on Mercator shelves also for Slovenian producers.
"We wish that these products be marketed, not only at home but in the entire region," Pahor said, while suggesting that the new agriculture minister will have to give more attention to the problems of the food industry.
Pahor's comments come after state-owned NLB bank and its subsidiary Banka Celje said in February they would not sell their 15% stake in Mercator as part of coordinated sale of a total of 36.4% held in Slovenia's leading retailer by a total of eight banks. The banks seized the shares as collateral for soured loans.
Moreover, daily Dnevnik reported on Wednesday that NKBM as well as Abanka are also withdrawing from the deal, for which eight non-binding bids were submitted by the 9 February deadline.
Uros Marter, the director of consultancy Arkas, which is coordinating the sale, told Dnevnik that the remaining banks are staying with the consortium, which leaves less than 17% of Mercator up for grabs.