Bosnia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia to monitor local units of Croatia's Agrokor

SARAJEVO (Bosnia and Herzegovina), April 19 (SeeNews) – Bosnia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia said on Wednesday they formed a ministerial team to monitor the performance of the units of Croatia's ailing concern Agrokor based in the four countries.

Serbia's prime minister Aleksandar Vucic, deputy PM Rasim Ljajic and agriculture minister Branislav Nedimovic met in Belgrade with Bosnia's foreign trade and economic relations minister Mirko Sarovic, Montenegro's economy minister Dragica Sekulic and Slovenia's minister for economic development Zdravko Pocivalsek to discuss ways to shield their countries from the fallout of the debt crisis in Agrokor, according to their joint press release sent to SeeNews by the Montenegrin economy ministry.

Agrokor, Croatia's largest private company, employs over 60,000 people, including some 20,000 in Bosnia and Serbia. The food and retail concern has a significant impact on the economies of each of the four countries. 

The participants in the meeting decided to form a ministerial team tasked with exchanging information on a daily basis and undertaking joint activities to preserve jobs and the interests of suppliers and to ensure the sound operations of Agrokor's units in Bosnia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia.

Each of the four countries will monitor the flow of finances and goods across Agrokor's companies on their soil.

Vucic, Ljajic, Nedimovic, Sarovic, Sekulic and Pocivalsek expressed their support for the Croatian government as it strives to stabilise Agrokor but added that they expect the receiver, Ante Ramljak, to shortly name independent experts to lead the restructuring of Agrokor.

The participants also said they expect the new administration at Agrokor to equally treat all suppliers, including those outside Croatia, and expressed their readiness to hold talks with Croatia's government towards finding a common solution.

Agrokor's financial problems became apparent earlier this year when Moody's downgraded it's corporate family rating (CFR) to B3 from B2. The company then pulled out of a syndicated loan deal it had struck with several international lenders, which sent the price of its bonds on international markets into a downward spiral.

On April 10, the Croatian government named Ante Ramljak as receiver of Agrokor to lead the restructuring process in the concern under a new law adopted by the parliament a week earlier.