Russia’s Ambassador to Croatia Anvar Azimov said on Thursday that the situation in the Croatian Agrokor food and retail conglomerate was normal, and that the Russian companies were following the state of affairs in the Ina oil company with great interest, but that the decision on the strategic partner in the company fell on Hungary and Croatia.
“The situation in Agrokor seems to be normal now, there are trends indicating things are looking up,” Azimov told reporters in the Adriatic city of Split where he is attending the second enegry-banking forum on the energy perspectives of EU and Eurasia.
He said the final court decision on the debt-for-equity settlement deal between Agrokor’s emergency administration and its creditors was expected by the end of the year.
The debt-for-equity settlement deal, reached on June 19, details the ownership structure of the new Agrokor, and the High Commercial Court is now hearing appeals against the plan. Once the settlement is final, its implementation will begin, which is planned to last three to six months.
“In case the settlement is confirmed, Sberbank and VTB bank will be able to begin work on restructuring the company. We’re optimistic and Sberbank is putting together a strong team to work in Agrokor,” Azimov said.
Under the provisions of the settlement deal, Russian Sberbank would own the most shares, 39.2 percent, after the company’s restructuring. Along with another Russian bank, VTB (7.5 percent), and Zagrebacka Banka (2.3 percent), it will own nearly three quarters of total shares in Agrokor.
Azimov said he was certain Sberbank had every opportunity to turn Agrokor into a “more efficient and competitive company.”
When asked whether Russian companies were interested in a strategic partnership with the Croatian Ina oil company, Azimov said Hungary and Croatia were the ones who had to decide on the new strategic partner in Ina.
“As far as Ina is concerned, Russian companies are following the situation in the company with interest, but many things are not up to us, because Hungary and Croatia have to decide on Ina’s strategic partner. If such an opportunity is offered to Russia, we will consider it,” he said.
In June this year, the government confirmed that the US-based company Castleton Commodities International (CCI) expressed interest in becoming Ina’s new strategic partner.
Hungarian MOL became Ina’s strategic partner in 2003, after purchasing 25 percent plus one share. Over time Ina’s ownership structure has changed and now the state owns 44.8 percent shares, while MOL has nearly 49.1 percent ownership of Ina. The government had said in June that they had not given up on buying back MOL’s shares.
Azimov also announced that the inter-governmental Croatian-Russian commission for economic and scientific cooperation would meet at the end of October, saying Russia had a lot of expectations from the meeting.