The Croatian Fortenova Group, the legal successor of Agrocor Company, announced that 69.57 per cent of the shares of Poslovni sistem Mercator have been transferred from Agrokor dd to Fortenova Group, where Mercator has become an integral part of the Fortenova Group Retail Division, which now owns 88.1 per cent. of Mercator stock. The transfer of Mercator shares coincided with the refinancing by Fortenova Group of Mercator’s debt to 55 banks, totaling EUR 385 million. In cooperation with its creditors, HPS Partners and VTB, Fortenova Group has secured the funds required to fully replace the aforementioned Mercator debt.
“This ensured the perfect transfer of ownership of Mercator from a bankrupt to a stable company with a consolidated ownership and creditor structure. “As of today, the Fortenova Group’s retail network consists of about two and a half thousand Mercator and Konzum outlets with a total of 39,000 employees working in five markets in the region, with a population of nearly 20 million people.” announced Fortenova Group.
Agrokor had bought the shares of Mercator in 2014, but to date Mercator had not been operatively integrated into its owner’s business. “As of today, the Fortenova Group is the proud owner of Mercator, determined to be the best owner Mercator has ever had. This is a new beginning that opens up a number of new opportunities for all of us. The new, optimized capital structure of Fortenova Group provides stability and ability for strong investments in our companies that move forward to drive their future growth. With Mercator within the Fortenova Group we are consolidating the region’s largest retail network, increasing supply chain stability, jobs and tax revenues of the countries in which we operate as well as opening up new opportunities and continuing to support the growth of local suppliers, “said Fabris Peruško, CEO of the Fortenova Group and Member of the Board of Directors.
Peruško noted that after the integration of Mercator and the stripping of the Frozen Food Business, with over 50 thousand employees Fortenova Group will be the largest employer in the region, generating approximately 5 billion euros in revenue, operating profits of more than EUR 270 million for this year, despite the ongoing pandemic, to realize more than EUR 125 million of capital expenditures.
“The closure of additional funding to enable the transfer of Mercator is fully in line with our strategic financial plans. We have made great progress in recent weeks in realizing our plans not only with this refinancing agreement but also with frozen relocation, other non-core sales and a very strong Q1 business performance. At the heart of this has been a multinational team, with many locations that has done a really great job and they deserve great credit for everything that has been achieved, “commented James Pearson, Chief Financial Officer of the Fortenova Group.
Tomislav Čizmić, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Mercator said that Mercator today is not only a retailer, but much more. “It is a platform that connects employees, customers and suppliers, which has successfully developed new sales concepts. The knowledge, effort, experience, skills and sense of belonging of employees are the creators of Mercator success. “Being a company that cooperates with over three thousand suppliers and makes purchases worth 1.2 billion euros per year from local and regional partners, this merger offers an excellent business opportunity for the long-term development of their brands”, said Čizmić. He added that, along with the continued acceleration of digitalization and the development of multi-channel digital platforms, Mercator’s strengths in consolidating Fortenova Group retail are the strengthening of its store network and the development of a modern logistics infrastructure.