• Maric joins technocrat premier who's pledged to trim debt
  • Bridge, HDZ party leaders named to deputy-premier posts

Croatia’s coalition-in-waiting tapped Zdravko Maric, an executive at food manufacturer Agrokor d.d., as finance minister as it tries to kindle an economic recovery following a record recession.

Maric, 38, joins technocrat Prime Minister-Designate Tihomir Oreskovic, who will present his cabinet nominations for a vote of confidence in parliament on Friday. Oreskovic, a former chief financial officer at Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Europe, will become the first prime minister who doesn’t hail from the two parties that have dominated Croatian politics since the country tore away from the former Yugoslavia in 1991.

The government, backed by a coalition of the Bridge party and the Croatian Democratic Union, or HDZ, is trying to revive a country that saw 12 percent of output wiped out of the economy in a six-year recession. Oreskovic, who was raised in Canada, was nominated by Bridge to prevent a political figure as head of government. He’s pledged to sell state-owned companies, trim the size of the state administration and tackle a debt load that’s doubled since 2008 to more than 90 percent of gross domestic product.

“We selected a quality team, healthy, young and many from the private sector,” Oreskovic, 49, said in Zagreb. “I’m happy and proud to present these people, I’m ready to work and help create happy and successful Croatia.”

Maric served as Finance Ministry state secretary under a HDZ-led government in 2008. A year later he completed his doctorate at the Faculty of Economics and Business at the University of Zagreb, with a thesis titled “The impact of Foreign Direct Investment on the Productivity of Croatian Companies.” He has served as the executive director for strategy and capital markets at Agrokor since January, 2012.

Deputy Premiers

The yield on Croatia’s euro-denominated note due May 2022 rose three basis points on Thursday to 3.7 percent as of 1:10 p.m. in Zagreb, rising a second day from a four-month low. Debt of the EU’s newest member has returned 2 percent since Dec. 23 when Oreskovic’s nomination ended the six-week political gridlock that followed the vote.

HDZ leader Tomislav Karamarko was nominated as deputy prime minister along with Bridge leader Bozo Petrov, who used his party’s third-place finish in inconclusive Nov. 8 elections to outmaneuver HDZ and their Social Democrat rivals and lead coalition talks.

Bridge is pushing for an economic overhaul after Milan Zoranovic’s Social Democrat-led government canceled highway and energy exploration tenders and forgave the debts of the poorest Croats amid the economic downturn. The previous government, led by HDZ, lost a 2011 election after a graft scandal that resulted in the conviction of former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader.

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