October 26, 2018 / 3:43 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Croatia's court approves Agrokor's debt settlement deal

(Adds Agrokor management statement, background, details)

ZAGREB, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Croatia's High Commercial Court on Friday approved a settlement deal for the indebted Croatian food producer and retailer Agrokor that includes a debt-for-equity swap and some loan write-offs, the company said.

Under the deal, Agrokor's biggest single creditor, Russia's Sberbank will become the largest shareholder with a 39.2 percent stake. Bondholders will own 25 percent, local Croatian banks 15.3 percent and Russia's second largest bank VTB will end up with a 7.5 percent stake.

"We're very content with this decision because now all the conditions are met for the implementation of the settlement deal to begin," Agrokor's state-appointed crisis manager Fabris Perusko told reporters.

Agrokor, the largest firm in the Balkans with 52,000 staff, was put under state-run administration in April 2017, crippled by debts built up during an ambitious expansion drive. .

The crisis management committee is now expected to hand over the running of the company to the new owners within the first few months of next year.

The settlement deal was reached last July, but a few local firms and small shareholders lodged appeals, dissatisfied with the deal. The court rejected all complaints.

A London court ruled on Thursday that Agrokor's founder Ivica Todoric, who is being investigated over the crisis at the company, must return to Croatia to face allegations of fraud involving tens of millions of euros. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Reporting by Igor Ilic and Maja Zuvela; editing by Kirsten Donovan

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