Russia’s state-owned Sberbank will soon no longer be the largest shareholder in Fortenova Group, the Croatian food, agriculture and retail business previously trading as Agrokor.
Fortenova, which emerged under a new name in 2019 from the restructuring of Agrokor, said Sberbank has signed an agreement with investment company Indotek in Hungary for the sale of its 44% stake in the agri-food group.
The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals in “several markets”, Fortenova said in a statement posted on its website. No financial details were provided.
Sberbank, Russia’s largest lender, has been sanctioned by the US over Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. It is also the subject of an asset freeze by the UK.
The bank’s stake in Fortenova was built up last year when Sberbank swapped its shares in Slovenian food retailer Mercator. The Russian lender had held 39.2% of the Croatian group following a debt-for-equity swap in 2018, a year after Agrokor was put into state administration amid accusations of fraud by founder Ivica Todoric.
Fabris Peruško, Fortenova’s CEO and board member, said: “We welcome the entry of Indotek, which we recognise as a long-term strategic partner, into the co-ownership of the Fortenova Group and we hope and expect that in the next few months all the approvals required to complete the sale and purchase of shares will be obtained.”
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Fortenova also owns the Croatian supermarket chain Konzum. In food, the group manufactures margarine, cooking oils, mayonnaise and ice cream. Its agri-business includes cereals, cheese, fruit, vegetables and livestock. The company’s assets include Croatia-based meat processor PIK Vrbovec and fruit-and-veg supplier PIK Vinkovci.
In retail and wholesale, Fortenova generates revenues of more than HRK31bn (US$4.4bn) across markets in Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro, according to the group’s LinkedIn page. Agricultural operations foster a further HRK3bn.
Peruško added: “Regardless of a possible change in co-ownership, the Fortenova Group continues with regular business operations. Our operating companies are successfully managing market disruptions caused by rising operating costs and disruptions in some supply chains, that our many customers do not feel, and we are fully focused on preparing for this year’s tourist season from which we have significant expectations.”
Fortenova revealed in a separate announcement at the start of April that it had required all the remaining shares in Mercator after “squeezing out minority shareholders”.