Karanovic & Nikolic secures merger clearances for acquisition of Mercator

Karanovic & Nikolic has secured merger clearances in Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Albania for the acquisition of Slovenian retailer Mercator by Croatian company Agrokor, clearing the path for the €240m (£194m) deal to be finalised.

Last year, Agrokor signed a binding agreement to acquire Mercator and the acquisition was conditional upon clearances by competition commissions.

Agrokor is the largest privately owned company in former Yugoslavia. It produces and distributes food and beverages and also owns Croatian grocery chain Konzum dd. Mercator is the largest retailer in Slovenia and one of the largest retailers and wholesalers in the region.

Three out of eight competition authorities initiated in-depth (Phase II) investigations, marking the first time a single case was scrutinised by so many states simultaneously. Phase II investigations are initiated when authorities consider that a transaction could lead to lessened competition in affected markets. In such investigations, authorities use their investigatory powers to collect information from third parties to assess competition concerns arising from a transaction.

In Serbia and Croatia, Agrokor offered to divest several assets to dispel concerns raised by authorities. In all other jurisdictions, the transaction was cleared without conditions. Karanovic & Nikolic acted as lead adviser on the deal and successfully obtained merger clearances in all countries, which will now allow the acquisition to go ahead as planned.

Karanovic & Nikolic’s legal team was headed by partner Rastko Petaković.