By Stelios Orphanides
Greece’s retail group Marinopoulos S.A., owner of Cyprus’s retail chain Carrefour, is awaiting the approval of a rescue plan by the board of directors of two banks which includes its takeover by the Greek retail group Sklavenitis, the Greek website insider.gr reported on Thursday without citing its source.
Marinopoulos’s rescue plan, made necessary after the company applied for protection from its creditors two months ago, provides for the extension of a €360m loan at an interest rate of 1.5 per cent by a group of banks that includes the National Bank of Greece, Piraeus Bank, Eurobank and Alpha Bank, insider.gr reported. The banks have an option to buy a 25 per cent stake in the company. Sklavenitis will pay €125m for the acquisition.
The boards of directors of Alpha Bank and Eurobank already extended their approval to the deal, insider.gr reported while the National Bank of Greece and Piraeus Bank are expected to do so today. Under the terms of the deal, Marinopoulos’s suppliers will accept a 50 cent loss on the euro.
A manager at Chris Cash & Carry which operates Carrefour Cyprus said that if the deal with Sklavenitis goes ahead, “it will be good news” for the Cypriot retail chain as it will mark the end of the uncertainty in which the company has operated in the past few months, even as it virtually remained unaffected by the mother company’s troubles.
The Chris Cash & Carry manager said that the losses suppliers of the Greek mother company will have to accept will not apply to those of the Cypriot retail company. His comments are in line with an August 10 statement issued by Carrefour Cyprus in which the company dismissed “rumours” concerning probable losses for Cypriot suppliers.
“Despite the fact that (the company) belongs to the same group, it constitutes an independent legal entity with legal, operational independence and is able to meet all its obligations now and in the future,” the statement said.
A Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry source said that while initial news about Marinopoulos’s troubles upset suppliers in Cyprus, many of which suffered losses in 2013 when the retail group Orphanides ran out of cash, there had been no complaints later.
Insider.gr said that a breakdown of Marinopoulos could have “incalculable consequences” on the Greek economy as the company’s liabilities account for 1 per cent of Greece’s economic output, estimated by Eurostat at €176bn last year.