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Southeastern Europe: Retail sector steals the M&A limelight

Belgian retailer in big acquisition in Serbia; Agrokor and Mercator vie for local leadership

The retail sector in former Yugoslavia has generated the lion’s share of headlines in the local business press in the past few weeks, with the acquisition of the leading food retailer in Serbia and a battle of wills involving the leading supermarket chains in Croatia and Slovenia.

After 12 months of negotiations, Belgian retailer Delhaize has made big inroads into southeastern Europe with an agreement to acquire 100% of Delta Maxi, which operates 450 stores in five countries in the region. Delhaize has agreed to pay a total €932.5 million for Delta Maxi, comprising €632.5 million in cash and the assumption of €300 million in debt. This equates to a multiple of 0.67 to 0.69 times expected revenues in 2011 of €1.35 billion to €1.4 billion.

Established in 2000, Delta Maxi is the leading retailer in Serbia, with more than 350 stores, and is also a big player in Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and Montenegro. It has more than 15,000 employees.

A complex deal

Commenting on the purchase agreement, Pierre-Olivier Beckers, Delhaize’s chief executive, told Euromoney: "This was a complex deal involving a number of different formats across a number of different countries."

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