The largest company in Croatia refused to return to Sberbank 1 billion euros

The largest company in Croatia, the food retailer Agrokor, decided not to recognize the claims of its largest creditor, Sberbank, as it sued the company outside of Croatia.
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Retailer Agrokor, which since April is under state management, does not recognize the debt requirements of the Savings Bank, Bloomberg reports with reference to the company's message on the website of the Commercial Court in Zagreb. The company excludes Sberbank from the board of creditors, the Russian bank will also lose the opportunity to participate in the development of an agreement on the settlement of loan claims.

The reason for this decision Agrokor was the provision of Croatian law, which prevents double consideration of judicial claims. Sberbank filed a lawsuit against Agrokor in London arbitration: the Croatian retailer owes the Russian bank € 1 billion. The Russian bank is trying in court to obtain a ban on Agrokor to sell assets outside of Croatia, and also challenges the recognition of local bankruptcy procedures in Slovenia, Serbia and the UK.

On the possibility of such a decision in November, the Croatian newspaper Vecernji List said Ante Ramliak, the head of the company appointed to this post after the introduction of Agrokor public administration. On Saturday, November 5, Ramliak said he hoped to reach an agreement with Sberbank to withdraw the lawsuit in London.

"Sberbank plans to appeal against the decision of Agrokor in court," the press service of the bank told RBC.

As explained by informed sources Bloomberg, the total debt of Agrokor, including unrecognized claims and debt disputes between the company's divisions, is $ 8.93 billion.

The main owner of Agrokor until the spring was Ivica Todorich, whom Forbes magazine in 2016 called the richest man in the Balkans. On 7 November, Todorich was arrested in London in accordance with a warrant issued to the Croatian police. In mid-October, six former top managers of Agrokor were detained in Croatia. They are all suspected of fraud and committing economic crimes. Management of the company Todorich back in April 2017 passed to the state.

Among the creditors Agrokor also has a Russian VTB (the amount of debt to him is $ 340 million), BNP Paribas, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse and JP Morgan.

The retailer is one of the systemically important enterprises, it provides about 15% of Croatia's GDP. This is the largest company not only in Croatia, but also in the former Yugoslavia. Employees Agrokor are about 60 thousand people, the company owns assets in Slovenia. Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Hungary.

The company was faced with problems due to the accumulation of debt-burdened assets, itself borrowing funds in the bond market. However, in early 2017, after Agrokor was unable to attract another syndicated loan due to unfavorable market conditions in the retail market, the bondholders of the company began selling them.