The US-Cyprus consortium of hedge funds York Capital Management and Elements Capital Partners is apparently in a hurry to acquire Viktorija Group.
And although this Serbian company, majority owned by businessmen Mili Babić and Zoran Mitrović, did not confirm this information, the potential investors have announced that the transaction would have been completed by the end of the year. They claim that they have recently talked about their plans and investments in Serbia with Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and the main creditors of Viktorija Group.
Why are these two funds so much in a hurry to acquire a stake in the Serbian company and invest 100 million euros in it?
The Group comprises of 10 companies which are all deemed very important for the domicile agro-industry sector. The general public is best known for the trade and export of cereals. The Group employs 1,700 people, with its Soja Protein Company being the biggest processor of soybeans in Serbia and the region. The Group also owns the SP Food Testing Laboratory, the Backa Palanka Port, the cooking oil company in Šid and the Veterinary Institute in Subotica.
However, the Group has managed to amass 43 billion dinars debt (about 360 million euros) since the onset of the global financial crisis, which, according to its potential new owner, York Capital Management is not really a problem. This American hedge fund already has experience in purchasing over-indebted and stagnant companies in the region that have the growth potential.
Experts think that the US-Cypriot consortium actually has their eyes on something else owned by Viktorija Group, i.e. its mining companies. In 2008, one of the Group’s companies, Viktorija Fosfati started researching the Lisin phosphate mine near Bosilegrad. And it is a well know fact that, in the near future, phosphate ore will be a strategic raw materials because its deposits are almost exhausted in the world. Phosphates are used in the production of mineral fertilizers, feed additives, detergents and cosmetics. The Lisina mine is considered one of the biggest phosphate deposits in the continental part of Europe. The other nearest phosphate mine is located in the north of Finland.
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