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Mercator Shares Rise in Ljubljana, Reversing Earlier Drop

May 5 (Bloomberg) -- Mercator Poslovni Sistem d.d., the largest publicly traded retailer in the Balkans, reversed earlier losses in Ljubljana, gaining the most in a week.

Mercator rose 6.40 euros, or 4 percent, to close at 165 euros at the Ljubljana stock exchange after falling as much as 5.4 percent in early trading. Pivovarna Lasko Group d.d., which owns a 23 percent stake in Mercator, yesterday rejected an offer to purchase the Slovenian retailer by the Croatian rival Agrokor d.d.

“A large number of companies on Ljubljana bourse face low market depth, large bid-to-ask spreads and relatively low daily turnover, which allows for sizable intraday volatility,” Jernej Kozlevcar, a fund manager at Triglav Asset Management Co. in Ljubljana said in a phone interview today. “That is also the case of Mercator today and in recent weeks. I don’t expect any significant changes without new information on the possible sale of a majority stake in Mercator.”

Pivovarna Lasko, which is struggling to repay loans of about 400 million euros, yesterday rejected a 221 euros per Mercator share offer by Agrokor. The decision follows the move by the Slovenian competition protection office which forbid Lasko to freely dispose of Mercator shares on the grounds of possible “high concentration” in the retail industry.

Mercator proposed in March to its investors to form a group and sell a majority holding to attract better offers as the Slovenian retailer and its Croatian rival Agrokor vie for control of the industry in the Balkans.

Pivovarna Lasko dropped the most in a week, falling 11 percent to close at 9.80 euros in Ljubljana.

-- Editor: Douglas Lytle

To contact the reporter on this story: Boris Cerni in Ljubljana at bcerni@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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