Croatia's Fortenova posts lower revenue, profit in 2020 amid pandemic

ZAGREB, April 29 (Reuters) - Croatian food producer and retailer Fortenova Grupa, whose biggest shareholder is Russia’s Sberbank, on Monday reported lower revenue and operating profit last year as the COVID-19 pandemic impacted its business.

Fortenova said in a statement its consolidated 2020 revenues amounted to 21 billion kuna ($3.37 billion), or 11.7% lower than a year before, while operating profit (EBITDA) reached 1.3 billion kuna, or 30.1% below the 2019 level.

“The COVID-19 pandemic had the strongest negative effect on those companies that are closely related to the tourist industry channels. The markets where the tourist season has a strong impact on gross domestic product, like Croatia and Montenegro, were hit more severely,” the statement said.

Fortenova, one of the biggest companies in southeastern Europe and formerly known as Agrokor, was saved from bankruptcy in a restructuring deal with local and foreign creditors in mid-2018, which included a change of the name and the ownership structure. Sberbank now controls some 44%.

Earlier this year, Fortenova sold its frozen food business and took back control over Slovenia’s biggest food retail chain Mercator . Mercator results will be integrated in Fortenova’s results this year.

“Divestment of frozen food business and the integration of Mercator will positively affect our 2021 results. We are also hoping that this year’s tourist season will be better than last year’s,” Fortenova said.

Besides Mercator, Fortenova also owns the biggest food retail chain in Croatia - Konzum - and is present in several Balkan countries.

Reporting by Igor Ilic Editing by Bernadette Baum