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Slovenia Business Week no. 39/2004: Mercator Publishes Bid for the Takeover of Serbia's C Market

Mercator, Slovenia's largest retailer, published an all-cash bid for the acquisition of Serbian grocer C Market on Saturday, 18 September, offering to pay 18,000 dinars or just over 243 euros per share. Mercator wants to purchase at least 33.4 percent of all shares in an offer that expires on 24 October.

Mercator's offer means that the entire company, taking into account that C Market's share capital is made up of 200,798 shares, is valued at just under EUR 49m.

Mercator issued the bid after it got the green light from the Serbian Securities Market Agency. The stock market watchdog confirmed on Thursday, 16 September that Mercator is meeting all formal and legal criteria for the takeover.

The Slovenian retailer stresses in the offer that it does not intend to alter the core activity of what is Serbia's largest grocer, and that it wants to preserve the company's logo and trademark. Mercator has made the commitment to keep the same share of Serbian products on the shelves, and preserve the selection of products from those retailers that can meet its quality and price standards.

The company actually promises to make efforts to increase the offer of quality Serbian products, claiming that its long-term policy is to have 40 percent of local products on the shelves in every market.

Mercator furthermore promises to promote Serbian products in its stores in Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and even to promote and support the action launched by the Serbian government, dubbed "Buy Domestic".

The pledge that it would keep Serbian products on the shelves is probably designed to appease fears voiced by opponents of the takeover. They alleged that Mercator would squeeze out local producers and inflict damage on the local economy.

The offer also includes a social programme, in which the retailer promises not to lay off a single worker "who wants to work ... and accepts the standards of work at the Mercator Group".

The social programme, says Mercator, will also address the situation of those workers who will no longer wish to work at Mercator, providing for severance pay, collective and individual agreements, etc.

Source: Slovene Press Agency STA

Author: STA