Serbia?s MK group renews bid to purchase Greece?s Hellenic Sugar

MK Group d.o.o., a Serbian holding company focused on agribusiness, renewed a bid to buy Greece?s Hellenic Sugar Co. SA to increase sugar production and exports.

Agricultural Bank of Greece SA, known as ATEBank, invited offers last month for an 82 percent stake in Hellenic Sugar after a previous attempt failed. Novi Sad, Serbia-based MK dropped out from the earlier sale over regulatory obstacles even before ATEBank canceled it. MK expects to succeed in purchasing Greece?s sole sugar producer that has two plants in Serbia, owner Miodrag Kostic said. The latest sale has new managers, following ATEBank?s July takeover by Piraeus Bank SA.

?I don?t think there will be a lot of competition for Hellenic, they?re not in a good shape right now,? Kostic said in an interview, without disclosing offer details. ?They are too small for big players and too bad for small players.?

MK?s sugar producing unit, Sunoko d.o.o., plans to make some 220,000 tons this year, the same as in 2011, and is seeking to increase capacity and output as it hopes the European Union may increase its quota of 180,000 tons of sugar imports from Serbia.

Neighboring Croatia joins the bloc next year and Serbia expects the EU will let it take over ?at least part of the Croatian quota? of 220,000 tons, possibly shared with other aspiring members, Kostic said.

The acquisition would add Hellenic?s two Serbian plants, Crvenka Fabrika Secera AD and Sajkaska Fabrika Secera AD, to Sunoko?s three facilities that now export almost a half of their output.

MK expects that the Serbian Commission for Protection of Competition won?t act against it as it did in January when it objected to Sunoko increasing its market share to 78 percent from 50 percent with Hellenic?s Serbian assets, Kostic said. The Belgrade-based Administrative Court overturned the Commission?s decision in August.

In the previous attempt to sell Hellenic Sugar, top contenders were Polski Cukier, with the highest bid of 40 million euros ($52 million) plus debt assumption for the stake, Bulgaria?s Litex Commerce and Greece?s Selected Textile Industries SA, according to a report by Imerisia newspaper.


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