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UPDATE 1 – UAE investor proposes solution to prevent sale of Fortenova units

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Jun 28 (SeeNews) – Emirati investor Saif Alketbi said on Wednesday he would resist any further attempts by Croatia’s Fortenova management to sell the company’s assets and offer a solution to resolve Fortenova’s debts.

“Regrettably, the refinancing agreed to the obligation to sell key parts of Fortenova, such as Belje, PIK Vinkovci and VUPIK, which support the Croatian economy,” Alketbi said in a press release.

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“The Fortenova Group is good at producing high-quality domestic food and wine, and my aim is to invest in the development of this area and strengthen the Croatian food industry. I have a solution that will ensure the stability and growth of the Fortenova Group and I am ready to continue investing in the company.” Alketbi added.

The investor issued a statement following Tuesday’s Fortenova shareholder meeting Approval of a proposal to refinance its existing bonds The amount of the group’s main creditor, multinational HPS Investment Partners, ranges from 1.1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) to 1.2 billion euros. The proposal envisages the sale of its farming units as part of a financing deal.

“This is a heavy debt load that the Fortenova Group management is trying to attribute to the company’s ownership structure, which does not correspond to reality. Instead of trying to find a solution in the group’s favor, the management is using the company’s problems as an excuse to steer The group’s unfavorable resolution is only in the interest of management and (another shareholder) Open Pass,” Alketbi said.

Alketbi claims he indirectly owns 43.41% of Fortenova Group. He acquired SBK ART, which holds 43.41% of Fortenova, from Sberbank on October 31, 2022, and believes that the company no longer belongs to anyone in Russia. When he bought SBK ART, the company itself was not on the European Union sanctions list over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Emirati investor believes that in April, Fortenova and its management began an unnecessary fire sale process of the entire business.

“The result is that the process is effectively manipulated, and Fortenova did not receive any bids,” claimed the UAE investor. In his view, there was no offer from either party to acquire Fortenova Group MidCo BV (which fully owns Fortenova), given the unrealistically short deadlines imposed by management and the horror stories about the need to urgently refinance the company’s debt load. Dutch holding company) offer.

In a letter dated 16 June to international investment bank Lazard, Alketbi announced he was interested in acquiring Fortenova Group MidCo. BV is reasonably priced. As Fortenova management continues to hire Lazard to explore a MidCo sale, Alketbi has asked Lazard to share information related to its offer, including the structure of the proposed sale.

The Emirati businessman also said an Amsterdam court ruled on Tuesday that SBK ART was entitled to protect itself against disproportionate damages and demanded damages for Fortenova management’s attempt to sell Fortenova MidCo. “Although the Amsterdam court Deny the injunction sought by Mr Alketbi To thwart the sale attempt, company management abandoned the sale process in early June, thereby eliminating the need for specific court action,” he added.

($ = 0.912 Euros)

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