ECONOMY

Marfin Group lands bankrupt Serb department store chain

BELGRADE (Bloomberg) – Serbia, which is seeking to overhaul its economy by selling state assets, raised -360 million yesterday in the auction of bankrupt department store chain Robne Kuce Beograd. The chain was sold to Belgrade-based Verano Motors Co, Vesna Dzinic, director of the state-run Privatization Agency, said in a live broadcast today on RTS TV. Greece’s Marfin Investment Group SA (MIG), the biggest private equity fund in Southeast Europe, has agreed with Verano that Marfin will have a 66.7 percent stake in RKB, according to a later e-mailed statement in Athens. The final price exceeded the starting bid of -140 million and the government «is very pleased,» Dzinic said. «We are happy that this sale ended the agony of this company that started in 1996 and deepened further with its bankruptcy in 2002,» she said. RKB, once the largest retail chain in the former six-republic Yugoslavia, has «significant» real estate assets across Serbia and Montenegro and will provide «substantial synergies» with other companies owned or to be acquired by Marfin, according to the Athens statement today. Separately, MIG said yesterday more than half the shares it plans to sell in Vivartia SA will be acquired by Saudi Arabia’s Olayan Group and the food company’s chief executive officer. Olayan «has expressed interest» in acquiring about 1.62 million shares, or a 2 percent stake in Vivartia, for -26 apiece, MIG said yesterday in a bourse filing. Vivartia CEO Spyridon Theodoropoulos will pay the same price for a 4.9 percent stake to bring his holding in the company to 6.1 percent, the statement said.