Mercator embers cited “different views on certain elements of the sale of the company” for the resignation

Mercator embers cited “different views on certain elements of the sale of the company” for the resignation

The management board of Slovenian retailer Mercator, which has operations across the Balkans, has resigned amid disagreement with the owners of the company.

The resignations of the five board members, including CEO Ziga Debeljak, follow plans by the owners, which eventually came to nothing, to sell Mercator to Croatian retailer Agrokor. 

Members said "different views on certain elements of the sale of the company" resulted in a "mutually diminished level of trust between the management board and certain important shareholders".

"Current events regarding the general shareholders' assembly have disclosed this disagreement also to the broader business community," a statement said. "Therefore it is the assessment of the management board that its ability to efficiently conduct normal business and regulate relationship with business partners and other stakeholders has been impaired, irrespective of the outcome of the shareholders assembly."

Earlier this month, Mercator's shareholders requested amendments to the agenda of the regular shareholder assembly, in addition to the appointment of a new supervisory board.

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 last year, Agrokor indicated it would be interested in buying over 23% of Mercator owned by Slovenian brewer Pivovarna Lasko. In June, Lasko teamed up with other Mercator shareholders to jointly sell a 50.03% stake.

In October, Agrokor 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. Management also reportedly prevented Agrokor from performing due diligence, given the firm was its biggest competitor in the region.

Talks were then frozen in December after the CEO of Nova Ljubljanska Banka (NLB), one of the 12 parties looking to sell their combined stake, resigned, giving no reason for his departure. Two months later, Agrokor dropped its bid, saying it had failed to agree on the terms of a deal.

In today's statement, Mercator's board said it will look to appoint a new management board, "as soon as possible", given the "current demanding economic situation".

A spokesperson for Mercator told just-food that any future potential sale is "in the hands of the stockholders", who could "sell their shares in any one moment".

The board members that have resigned include Vera Aljancic Falež, Melita Kolbezen, Stanka Curovic and Peter Zavrl.