International Finance Corporation (IFC),
a member of the World Bank Group, is providing a loan of €25 million to
Belgrade-based ice-cream and frozen food producer Frikom to increase production,
processing and harvesting capacity of the company, reads the statement published on the website of that financial organization.
In addition, Credit
Agricole Serbia is providing a €15 million parallel loan to Frikom, which is in the possession of Croatian Agrokor.
In that way, IFC and Credit Agricole are supporting
Agrokor Group, a leading agribusiness and retail
group and one of the largest private investors in Southeast Europe.
- Agribusiness is a priority for IFC
in Southeast Europe, and Serbia in particular, where many companies need
to improve efficiency and ensure long-term sustainability in order to integrate
fully into the European market - said Dimitris Tsitsiragos, IFC Director
for Middle East, North Africa, and Southern Europe.
- IFC’s long-term
partnership with Agrokor demonstrates our continuing commitment to the
agribusiness sector and regional economic integration - Mr. Tsitsiragos explained.
Agriculture and food processing contribute
significantly to the Serbian economy, accounting for more than 20 percent
of gross domestic product (GDP). About 44 percent of Serbia’s population
lives in rural areas, and about one-third relies on agriculture for its
livelihood, reads the statement issued by IFC.
- With IFC as a partner, we will continue
to seek the highest standards in our operations in Serbia and the region - said Ivica Todoric, President of Agrokor.
To mitigate the negative impact of the
economic slowdown, and to sustain the fragile recovery underway, IFC's
strategy in Serbia is to support established local and regional groups
that have weathered the crisis and require long-term financing in order
to remain competitive, reads the statement.