Croatian retailer Agrokor has agreed a deal to acquire a majority stake in Slovenian rival Mercator for EUR240m (US$320m).

The move is the fifth time Agrokor has sought to buy its competitor Mercator, which has stores across the Balkans, including in Croatia.

The retailer has struck a deal to buy a 53.1% stake in Mercator put for sale by 12 of its shareholders. Last month, the consortium received two bids for the shares, with reports naming Agrokor and private-equity firm Mid Europa Partners as the bidders. Neither reported bidder commented at the time.

Agrokor will pay EUR120 per share for Mercator, creating one of the largest retail companies in Central and Eastern Europe, with annual revenue of around EUR7bn.

“This combination represents a compelling business opportunity to create a retail champion with the potential to increase overall competitiveness, preserve employment and to spearhead future economic growth and preserve employment not only for Slovenia and Croatia but for the wider region and gain relevance on European scale,” said Agrokor owner Ivica Todoric.

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

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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 over a dispute.

According to Reuters, early last year Agrokor offered EUR221 per Mercator’s share, but the sale collapsed because Mercator’s former management refused to let it carry out due diligence.