Serbia

Slovenia’s largest food retailer Mercator refinanced a debt of its Serbian unit Mercator-S to the value of 90 million euros ($99.8 million) with Serbian bank AIK, Mercator said on Wednesday, Reuters reported. It did not give details of the deal but said the conditions of the refinancing were “much more favourable” than those of the previous syndicated loan which was taken in 2014 and would expire in March. It added the refinancing will improve liqudity of the Serbian unit over the next five years and enable further development of Mercator in Serbia.

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Serbia's Bankruptcy Supervision Agency said it is selling assets of insolvent wheat and animal feed wholesaler Mlinostep. The auction will take place on May 24 at a starting price of 170.9 million dinars ($1.6 million/1.4 million euro), the Bankruptcy Supervision Agency said in a statement on Monday. The list of assets put up for sale includes warehouses, silos and land in Stepanovicevo, in northern Serbia. A deposit of 68 million dinars is required to participate in the auction. Mlinostep was declared bankrupt in November 2016.

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Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic promised the IMF to restructure, close or sell hundreds of money-losing companies that robbed the budget of as much as $1 billion a year, Bloomberg News reported. The list includes coal miner JP PEU Resavica, the Rudarsko-topionicarski basen Bor copper miner, and chemical producers Azotara doo and Metanolsko Sircetni Kompleks MSK. After Serbia pared its fiscal gap to 1.4 percent of economic output last year from 6.6 percent in 2014, ending aid to companies would “cement gains,” Sosa said, though “vested interests” may make trims more difficult.
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Russia's top lender Sberbank has filed a lawsuit against mining company Mechel for 3.8 billion roubles ($77.74 million), the Moscow Arbitration Court reported on Tuesday. Russia's second largest state bank VTB also filed a lawsuit against the indebted steel and coal producer for 1.9 billion roubles ($38.87 million), the court reported in documents released on its website. Mechel, controlled by businessman Igor Zyuzin, incurred large debts before the economic downturn.
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Serbia and the World Bank's International Finance Corporation agreed a programme on Monday to improve bankruptcy legislation and out of court settlements, in order to bring down the high level of non-performing loans, Reuters reported. Bad loans account for 23 percent of all lending in Serbia, a European Union candidate country where foreign banks control 75 percent of the market. So far, four Serbian banks have collapsed under the weight of bad loans, at a cost of 800 million euros to the state.
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Serbia will not ask the International Monetary Fund to let it continue protecting indebted state-operated firms from creditors, Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said on Wednesday, reversing government policy, Reuters reported. An IMF mission this week started its review of Serbia's 1.2 billion euro ($1.36 billion), three-year precautionary loan deal, which, amongst other things, envisions the state selling or reforming a number of unprofitable and indebted companies.
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Growing desperation and technical changes to entry rules on Serbia’s border prompted tens of thousands of Kosovars to try to leave the former Serb province in late 2014, the Financial Times reported. Even as tighter controls have curbed the outflow from one of the continent’s poorest countries, the worsening economic situation that forced them to leave remains. Despite 15 years of western tutelage and billions of dollars in investment, many want to leave a country dominated by a small elite with close links to organised crime.
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Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić said Wednesday he believed it possible to find a solution for around 40 restructuring companies and save them from bankruptcy. Vučić and Labor Minister Aleksandar Vulin met in Belgrade with officials of the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions led by Ljubisav Orbović and representatives of worker unions from 40 companies undergoing restructuring. There is a total of 156 restructuring companies in Serbia.
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Serbia's likely new prime minister said he plans "several painful" steps to narrow the nation's budget deficit after his party won parliamentary elections on Sunday, an outcome he expects will accelerate Serbia's accession to the European Union, The Wall Street Journal reported. Aleksandar Vučić's center-right Serbian Progressive Party won 49% of votes at the general election Sunday and, under the country's rules, will get 155 seats in the 250-seat legislature. Since 2012, Mr. Vučić has been the first deputy prime minister in a coalition government. With an absolute majority, Mr.
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A top Serbian official warned of the country's dire economic straits and signaled that the government was preparing to cut the wages of public workers, as the cabinet prepared to pass new austerity measures on Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reported. Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said the government will cut public worker salaries by 10% or more as the government struggles to avoid insolvency and a ratings downgrade of its bonds. Serbia is suffering staggering unemployment, with a quarter of the working-age population out of work.
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