ZAGREB, March 30 (Reuters) - Orbico, a leading Croatian distribution and logistics company, has taken action to seek repayment of money it is owed by heavily-indebted food producer and retailer Agrokor, state media reported on Thursday.
“Orbico activated a promissory note worth 10 million kuna ($1.44 million),” state radio and television reported.
Orbico, which only has a small exposure to Agrokor according to local media, did not have an immediate comment when contacted by Reuters.
Analysts say if other suppliers take similar action it could cause problems for Agrokor’s efforts to restructure its debts.
“If each of them (the suppliers) starts to struggle individually to get money Agrokor owes, it would just further complicate efforts to stabilise Agrokor’s operations and make it eventually repay its debts,” Ljubo Jurcic, an independent economist said.
Agrokor’s debt to its suppliers is assessed at some 16 billion kuna, according to Croatian media.
Agrokor was not immediately available to comment.
Agrokor, the largest private firm in Croatia and biggest employer in the Balkans, has built up debts of about 45 billion kuna as it expanded rapidly.
According to Russia’s VTB bank, Croatia and a group of Agrokor creditors plan to sign a “standstill agreement” this week to freeze debt repayments as part of debt restructuring talks.
The Croatian government and Agrokor have not commented on this.
Agrokor said on Wednesday it would soon release a statement about its current situation and future steps. Russia’s banks, including Sberbank, are among its creditors.
Companies owned by Agrokor posted further losses in morning trade on the Zagreb bourse on Thursday. Agrokor is not listed itself, but its bonds, maturing in 2019 and 2020, are traded on foreign markets. The yields have risen sharply in the last two months.
$1 = 6.9386 kuna Reporting by Igor Ilic. Editing by Jane Merriman