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ZAGREB (Croatia), March 15 (SeeNews) - Croatia's ailing Agrokor concern is expected to sign an agreement with its largest creditor, Russia's Sberbank, on the claims held by the bank, Agrokor receiver, Fabris Perusko, said on Thursday.
Agrokor and Sberbank have already reached an "agreement in principle" over the bank's claims totalling some 1.1 billion euro ($1.4 billion), which can be expected to be signed as early as next week, Fabris Perusko told the media in Zagreb following a meeting with Agrokor suppliers. His statement was aired by public broadcaster HRT.
Agrokor announced in November its emergency administration had recognised debt claims in the amount of 41.2 billion kuna ($6.9 billion/5.6 billion euro). Sberbank's claims were, however, disputed due to lawsuits launched against the concern and its units by the bank outside Croatia in a bid to recover a part of the debt owed to it by Agrokor.
At the time, Croatia's unit of the Russian bank told SeeNews it was unpleasantly surprised.
"Sberbank has reported its claims fairly and lawfully, with documentation proving the grounds for and the amount of its claims", Sberbank's Croatian unit said in an e-mailed statement to SeeNews. It added at the time that it must file an appeal against the decision.
The deal set to be signed next week if expected to see Sberbank withdraw its lawsuits in return for having its claims recognised by Agrokor.
On Wednesday, Agrokor reported that preliminary estimates suggest its assets are valued at 1.8 - 3.8 billion euro, far below its debt to creditors.
Agrokor, which employs some 60,000 people in the region, has been in financial turmoil since January last year.
In April, a process of restructuring of the concern under emergency administration was launched under a new law commonly known as Lex Agrokor.
Under a debt settlement, which must be signed by creditors by July 10, Agrokor's emergency administration is proposing that the creditors become the new owners of the concern, while in return writing off a portion of their claims.
Fabris Perusko was appointed as Agrokor's new receiver in late February, to replace Ante Ramljak who resigned due to conflict of interest. Irena Weber was appointed as Perusko's deputy.