Potential sale of Fortenova from Sberbank gains momentum after sanctions

(Bloomberg) – Sberbank PJSC’s stake in the Balkan’s biggest retailer has attracted interest from several suitors, according to two people familiar with the negotiations, as the Russian lender pulls out after being hit with war sanctions in Ukraine.

Indotek-Investments, a fund controlled by Hungarian businessman Daniel Jellinek, is among the potential buyers and is carrying out due diligence for Sberbank’s 43% stake in Fortenova Grupa dd, according to two people familiar with the negotiations, who have asked not to be identified as the interviews are private.

A spokesperson for Indotek did not immediately comment on the potential deal, while Sberbank’s press office declined to comment. Due diligence for Russian bank Fortenova’s participation has begun, the Zagreb-based company’s spokesman said on Friday, without further details.

Jellinek struck a series of deals with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s son-in-law Istvan Tiborcz, most recently this month when he sold a majority stake in Diofa Asset Management to BDPST Zrt., which is the main vehicle of Tiborcz’s investment.

Sberbank, Russia’s biggest lender, was sanctioned last month in response to President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The bank is the largest shareholder in Fortenova, which has food production and retail units in Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and North Macedonia.

Sberbank’s European banking units earlier this month collapsed after sanctions sparked a run on local deposits in a number of countries. Its Austria-based unit was liquidated under local insolvency proceedings, while all shares of its Croatian and Slovenian subsidiaries were transferred to other companies in those countries, according to the Single Resolution Board, which manages defaulting European lenders.

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