Serbian Commission conditionally clears Agrokor’s takeover of Mercator

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By Dragan Gajin

On 25 December 2013, the Serbian Commission for Protection of Competition conditionally approved the takeover of the leading Slovenian commercial chain Mercator by Agrokor, the largest privately owned Croatian company. Through their respective subsidiaries, both Mercator and Agrokor are active in Serbia on the market of wholesale and retail of fast-moving consumer goods, while Agrokor is also active in the production of food and drinks. The core market of both companies is retail. Based on the respective turnovers generated in 2012, Mercator and Idea (Agrokor’s retail company in Serbia) were the second- and third-largest retailers in Serbia respectively.

According to information from the commission’s decision, Agrokor notified the proposed concentration on 28 June 2013, following the execution of an sale and purchase agreement between Agrokor and a consortium of majority shareholders of Mercator of 14 June 2013. Based on this agreement, Agrokor undertook to purchase 53.12 per cent of shares in Mercator, thereby acquiring sole control of the company.

Although in its notification Agrokor proposed that the commission approve the proposed transaction in summary (Phase I) proceedings, the commission on 3 September 2013 decided to open a Phase II investigation of the merger and invited all interested parties to deliver to the commission any information that may contribute to establishing the relevant facts in the proceedings. The commission noted that an investigation was necessary due to the merger’s horizontal (arising out of the overlap in business activities between the concentration participants) and vertical (in relation to the fact that Agrokor’s activities include both production and retail of certain products) aspects alike…

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