Agrokor expects deal on claims of top creditor Sberbank next week

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ZAGREB, March 15 (Reuters) – Indebted Croatian food group Agrokor expects to reach an agreement over the claims of its largest creditor, Russia’s Sberbank, next week, a key step in its attempts to secure a debt restructuring deal.

Agrokor, the largest private company in the Balkans with some 60,000 staff, was put under state-run administration last April for 15 months after an overly-ambitious expansion drive left it weighed down by borrowings.

Claims against the company, including those still subject to dispute, total about 58 billion kuna ($9.6 billion). Creditors include foreign and local banks, bondholders and suppliers.

The biggest single creditor is Sberbank, with a claim of 1.1 billion euros ($1.4 billion). However, its claim has been disputed, with Sberbank filing lawsuits outside Croatia to try to secure repayment.

“The talks (with Sberbank) are moving forward, an agreement in principle already exists and the signing of a deal could take place next week,” Agrokor’s crisis manager Fabris Perusko told reporters on Thursday.

The deal between Agrokor and Sberbank is expected to include the withdrawal of lawsuits and an acknowledgment of Sberbank’s claims.

Agrokor said on Wednesday its assets were estimated to be worth between 1.8 and 3.8 billion euros, far short of the claims against it and signalling creditors face hefty losses.

Agrokor’s crisis management wants to have debt settlement terms ready by April 10..

A settlement must be signed by July 10 if the company is to avoid bankruptcy.

($1 = 6.0244 kuna)

$1 = 0.8097 euros
Reporting by Igor Ilic
Editing by Mark Potter

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