Investors in Mercator have been looking to offload shares in the retailer on and off since 2008

Investors in Mercator have been looking to offload shares in the retailer on and off since 2008

Croatian retailer Agrokor is once again reported to be the frontrunner for Slovenian retail chain Mercator.

Slovenian television reports this week linked the retailer to Mercator a month after the group's owners, including shareholder Pivovarna Lasko, re-started an attempt to sell their joint 53.2% stake in the company.

Investors in Mercator have been looking to offload shares in the retailer on and off since 2008 but a sale has yet be sealed.

In March 2011, Agrokor indicated it would be interested in buying over 23% of Mercator. In October that year, Agrokor then reportedly placed a bid for the shares but, a month later, the management of Mercator pulled its support for talks to sell the company to Agrokor after a dispute over whether the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Finance Corp.

Agrokor did not return a request for comment on the report, but a spokesperson for ING Bank, majority owners of Mercator and recently-appointed consultant for the sale, confirmed to just-food that Agrokor was indeed a bidder.

"Agrokor is one of the bidders and there has been interest from a number of other parties," the spokesperson said. "Because of the way the process works we can't give any more commentary on how many bidders there are or who they are."

ING has put together a non-binding invitation for the submission of bids, which is being sent to potential buyers, reported to include Aldi, Carrefour, Metro, Tesco and Wal-Mart.

The spokesperson would not comment on how long the process will take or when a decision is likely to be made.