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Slovenia’s Mercator Posts First-Quarter Loss as Crisis Continues

Mercator Poslovni Sistem d.d. reported a net loss in the first quarter, saying the economic crisis in Slovenia and the region continues to hurt sales of the largest supermarket chain in the Balkans.

Revenue fell 2.6 percent to 658.4 million euros ($850 million), while the net loss was 8.6 million euros from a year-ago period, Mercator said in a statement to the Ljubljana stock exchange.

“Economic contraction and continued economic downturn, in addition to falling consumption and difficulties in obtaining financing have affected Mercator’s results,” the company said in a statement.

Mercator’s shares yesterday plunged to the lowest level in a decade after a report on May 13 that shareholders received only two bids for the company’s majority stake. Shares opened at 90.10 euros today at 9:34 a.m. in Ljubljana after closing at 95 euros yesterday.

Mercator’s owners, including Nova Ljubljanska Banka d.d., formed a consortium in December to try and sell a majority of the company again after Croatian rival Agrokor d.d. pulled out of the bidding process a year ago.

Agrokor renewed its offer earlier this year, according to two people familiar with the bid, who declined to be identified as the transaction is not public. The bid is fifth attempt by Zagreb-based Agrokor to buy its biggest competitor in the Balkans.

Mercator in 2012 had its first full-year loss in 15 years, posting a net loss of 104 million euros, compared with net income of 21 million euros in 2011.

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