Russia's Ambassador to Croatia, Anvar Azimov, said on Friday that Russian Sberbank was prepared to play a positive and constructive role in the restructuring of the indebted Agrokor food and retail group, and that it had the resources and potential for that, calling on "internal and external forces" to not put up obstacles in that regard.
"Sberbank is ready to play a very positive, constructive and stabilising role. We call on internal and external forces not to put up obstacles," Azimov told reporters when asked to comment on the US Ambassador W. Robert Kohorst's recent statements regarding Agrokor.
On Wednesday, Kohorst confirmed that in order to avoid unfavourable scenarios in the process to reach an agreement on a debt-for-equity settlement plan for Agrokor, not one group of creditors should acquire more than 10 percent of voting rights in the restructured company.
However, it has been speculated that a settlement would mean Sberbank , the company's largest single creditor with a 1.1 billion claim, would obtain a 30 percent ownership stake in the company. Sberbank and another Russian state-owned bank, VTB, would then end up jointly holding about 45 percent of the shares in the company.
"I don't think it is good for the ambassador to offer advice on that matter. We from Russia never do that. I'm a professional, and am aware of that, and he isn't a professional diplomat but a businessman. I therefore believe that he is trying to exert pressure or interfere. Let American banks come and save Agrokor. But they aren't doing it. Russian banks are prepared to do it. I'm certain that they will stabilise the situation, they have the resources, the potential and the expertise," Azimov said in Zagreb on Friday, on the margins of a Croatian-Russian business forum.