Release Serbian billionaire no help for Delhaize

Release Serbian billionaire no help for Delhaize

Serbian billionaire Miroslav Mišković has been released from prison after 224 days, after paying a bail of 12 million euro, a record amount. He is still however unintentionally causing a delay in the transfer of shares from the chain C Market to Belgian Delhaize.

Profiting from end of communism

Mišković became rich after the civil war in former Yugoslavia. As a friend of then Serbian president Slobodan Milošević, he was able to buy 24 formerly state-owned businesses. Those transactions now appear to have been 'not completely correct': Mišković is being accused of corruption and tax evasion, but he denies the allegations.

 

One of the sales that is being investigated is that of local distribution chain C Market, which was bought by the Delta holding of Mišković. In 2011 Delhaize bought Delta Maxi for 932.5 million euro, including 75% of C Market.

 

Delay for Delhaize remains

An attempt of Delhaize to increase its interest at C Market to 91%, by buying the 16% still owned by the government, was stopped temporarily in the spring of this year. The government first wants to handle things with Mišković. The transaction can be frozen for 180 days, until October. Delhaize is willing to pay 9.7 million euro for the shares.

 

Operationally not a lot will change for Delhaize. The Belgian company already owns three quarters of all shares.

 

If Mišković gets convicted, it could mean he has to serve up to ten years in jail. He is being accused of diverting 153 million euro during the privatisation of the companies, especially at companies in road construction. He is also being accused of 4.2 million in tax evasions.

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