Croatia’s Agrokor to Pay EU240 Million for Mercator Stake

Agrokor d.d., Croatia’s largest company, signed a contract to buy 53 percent of Slovenian retailer Mercator Poslovni Sistem d.d. for 240 million euros ($320 million), the Zagreb-based company said.

The majority of Mercator’s shareholders, including Nova Ljubljanska Banka d.d., Slovenia’s largest bank, and Pivovarna Lasko Group d.d., signed a contract with Agrokor today in Ljubljana, Slovenia, to sell the stake at 120 euros a share.

“I would like to thank the owners’ consortium, who decided to show us trust and give us an opportunity with Mercator to raise our efficiency and save jobs,” Agrokor owner Ivica Todoric said in the statement.

Closely-held Agrokor has sought to buy Mercator for years to expand into neighboring Slovenia, a European Union member since 2004, and the rest of the Balkans. Croatia will join the bloc on July 1.

The acquisition is expected to create the largest retail chain in central and eastern Europe, excluding Russia, with annual revenue of up to 7 billion euros. It would also employ about 60,000 people and have about 2,600 stores.

The bid was the fifth attempt by Agrokor to buy its biggest competitor in the Balkans. It last offered 221 euros per Mercator share in 2011, valuing the retailer at 832 million euros, before abandoning the bid in early 2012 amid opposition from Slovenian politicians.

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