ZAGREB, April 25 (Reuters) - Croatia has selected New York-based AlixPartners as an adviser to its restructuring of food group Agrokor, the man appointed to manage the process said on Tuesday.
Food producer and retailer Agrokor is Croatia's largest private firm and the biggest employer in the Balkans.
"In competition with five other respectable international firms I believe we have chosen the best offer, which includes both quality and price," state-appointed Agrokor crisis manager Ante Ramljak told reporters.
Agrokor owner Ivica Todoric handed control of the debt-laden company to the state under an emergency law this month.
Ramljak said AlixPartners would provide advice on securing short-term liquidity, cash flow management and improving operations and profitability of the companies owned by Agrokor.
"As a next step, we will also, with AlixPartners, prepare a restructuring plan and submit it for approval to creditors," Ramljak said.
Agrokor's debts totalled around 45 billion kuna ($6.57 billion), or six times its equity, according to data from last September.
Ramljak said the real debt situation would be known towards the end of June as all creditors, including banks and suppliers, are invited to submit their claims by June 10.
"Very soon, probably by the end of the week, we will also know what amount of money we need to borrow and thus create a positive cashflow this year. Thus, we will be able to enter talks with potential creditors for a fresh liquidity boost," Ramljak said.
Two weeks ago Agrokor secured an initial liquidity injection from five local banks of 80 million euros ($87.02 million). Agrokor will need some 450 million euros this year to operate normally.
($1 = 6.8516 kuna)
$1 = 0.9194 euros Reporting by Igor Ilic