Fortenova Group, the Croatian food and beverage group that has been looking for buyers, is planning to sell off its agriculture division.
The company, which announced in April that it was inviting possible suitors to submit their interest in buying the company, said it plans to divest its agriculture assets before the end of this year as part of a new financing agreement with its majority creditor, HPS Investment Partners.
“Should the divestment actually take place, proceeds will be used for the group’s further deleveraging or for strategic investments in the group’s other core retail and food businesses,” it said in an operational update on Friday (16 June).
Some 49.9% of the group is owned by sanctioned Russian banks Sberbank – through subsidiary SBK Art – and VTBE. Sberbank has tried to sell its stake in Fortenova since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but failed.
Last week, Croatian media outlets reported that no bids had been submitted as yet by potential purchasers of Fortenova Group MidCo B.V., a Dutch holding company behind the group.
The agriculture division Fortenova is planning to divest includes meat producer Belje and fruit-and-veg supplier PIK Vinkovci.
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The company said it has decided to enter a new financing deal with HPS after “significant efforts to find financing with banks and bond markets”.
Its shareholders will vote on its refinancing plans on 27 June.
The company said it continues to perform “extremely well” with preliminary unaudited results for 2022 showing net revenues exceeding €5.2bn ($5.68bn) and adjusted operating profits of more than €300m.
Fortenova, which has a portfolio ranging from meat and dairy to fresh produce and shelf-stable lines, owns brands including Zvijezda condiments and Jamnica soft drinks. It also owns the major Croatian food retailer Konzum.
It succeeded the collapsed Agrokor food business in 2019 and is one of Croatia’s largest employers with more than 45,000 staff.