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Croatia passes new law to protect 'systemically important companies'

Staff Writer |
Croatia's parliament was set to pass a new "special law", which is generally believed to have been designed to help the troubled private company Agrokor.

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However, some opposition MPs insist the law will not help the company in the long term, or its smaller suppliers and employees, or the economy in general.

The proposed Law on Procedures for Extraordinary Management in Companies of Systematic Significance was immediately labelled “Lex Agrokor”, as the criteria for giving the state a role in company crisis management practically fits only Agrokor.

The first draft envisaged such procedures applying only to companies employing over 8,000 staff – with Agrokor being the only private company in Croatia with that number of employees.

The threshhold for intervention was later cut to 5,000 people, to potentially include a few more private companies.

Additionally, another criterion is that the companies must have debts of over one billion euros, which also only fits Agrokor.

Croatia’s new law imposing crisis management on so-called systematic companies – nicknamed “Lex Agrokor” after the troubled company it is allegedly designed to help – may collide with Croatia's constitution, a law expert says.

Sanja Baric, a constitutional law school professor in the city of Rijeka, told BIRN that despite a few last-minute amendments to the law, it was “likely to be unconstitutional”.

“Somebody should send the law for constitutional review, though I don’t think the Constitutional Court will react in any way or abolish it. I think the Court will look on the law as ‘a lesser evil,’" she predicted.

Baric noted among other points that the law does not clearly define how the nine members of the creditors’ council of the company will be selected for the extraordinary management process.


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