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Croatia's Agrokor, Russia's Sberbank ink deal to recognise bank's claims

Author Maja Garaca
Croatia's Agrokor, Russia's Sberbank ink deal to recognise bank's claims Author: Agrokor. License: All rights reserved.

ZAGREB (Croatia), March 22 (SeeNews) - Croatia's ailing Agrokor concern said it has signed a term sheet with Russia's Sberbank that will result in the withdrawal of the bank's lawsuits against the concern and the recognition of Sberbank’s claims.

The term sheet, signed by Agrokor's receiver Fabris Perusko and Sberbank’s first deputy chairman of the management board Maksim Poletaev, sets the principles for Sberbank and its affiliates to withdraw the litigation proceedings initiated against Agrokor and its units and for the receiver to admit Sberbank’s contested claims and propose that they be included in an updated list of claims submitted to the Commercial Court of Zagreb, Agrokor said late on Wednesday.

Sberbank is Agrokor's largest creditor with claims totalling some 1.1 billion euro ($1.4 billion).

"I am pleased that we have been able to agree a roadmap regarding two major points we hope to achieve with Sberbank – them withdrawing the litigation proceedings and Agrokor recognizing their claims," Perusko is quoted saying.

"This agreement will allow the extraordinary administration and Sberbank to proceed together in a constructive manner towards reaching the overall settlement among all creditors," he added.

The recognition of Sberbank’s claim will enable them to vote in the settlement, which is expected to deliver a sustainable future for Agrokor.

Agrokor announced in November its emergency administration had recognised debt claims in the amount of 41.2 billion kuna ($6.8 billion/5.5 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 and that it must file an appeal against the decision.

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.

($=0.8096 euro)