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By Guy Norton of bne in Zagreb

If there’s a subject guaranteed to provoke impassioned debate in Croatia, it’s golf. Millions of people around the world may regard the game as Scotland’s greatest gift to humanity after single-malt whisky, but in Croatia it’s more often seen as one of the darkest evils of global capitalism. Opponents of about 90 proposed golf course developments in the country are keen to characterise golf as the sport of choice for global property speculators willing to wreak long-term environmental damage on Croatia in pursuit of short-term profit. Continue reading »

Six years of recession and government “inertia” are taking their toll on the EU’s newest member, according to Standard & Poor’s, which downgraded Croatia on Friday. The country’s long-term debt rating now stands at BB, lowering it further into non-investment grade. Hopes of an immediate departure from years of stalling on reform are dim – and it is scant reassurance that Croatia is not yet in fiscal crisis. Continue reading »

Croatia’s accession to the European Union on July 1 may have been hugely significant for a country putting years of Communist dictatorship and subsequent war behind it. But its first three months of membership have been characterised by economic decline, rather than the hoped-for resurgence. And the immediate outlook is not much sunnier. Continue reading »

By Tim Gosling of bne

Croatian Economy Minister Ivan Vrdoljak has reiterated his government’s desire to buy out Hungary’s Mol Group from local oil and gas firm Ina Group earlier this week – but is this just more rhetoric as the two sides looks to gain the upper hand in talks over operational control of the Croatian company? How long can the protracted battle drag on for? Continue reading »

Just days before Serbia unveils its rebranded flag carrier in partnership with the UAE’s Etihad, Croatia has announced that it is seeking a strategic investor with ambitious plans for its own national airline. Where national carriers seemed to be dying off, killed by competition from budget carriers and western European rivals, there is now real hope of revival. Continue reading »

Mol, the Hungarian oil and gas group, offered what appears to be an olive branch to Croatia on Thursday in the ongoing row over the control of Ina, the Zagreb-based refiner in which Mol owns just short of 50 per cent. Continue reading »

Ouch. The investment grade party is definitely over for Croatia. Rating agency Fitch has downgraded it to BB+, putting it firmly into junk territory.

It’s more of a hiss than a pop: of the three main rating agencies, S&P already had the country on BB+ and Moody’s downgraded Croatian debt as to Ba1 (the equivalent to BB+) back in February. Continue reading »

By Michael Glazer

A Zagreb court last week ruled that eight banks had mis-sold Swiss franc loans to retail clients. All foreign-owned, the banks make up more than 80 per cent of the Croatian banking industry.

The judgement – which is open to appeal – is fascinating in its many implications, not the least of which is the damages banks may have to pay. Continue reading »

By Erik Berglof and Peter Sanfey of the EBRD

Croatia’s accession to the European Union on Monday is a triumph – for the country and for the EU. For Zagreb, it is a triumph of perseverance – the completion of a process that began hesitantly in the 1990s and that faced many obstacles.

The European Commission, perhaps mindful of the accusation that some previous entrants were not fully prepared for membership, has subjected Croatia to greater scrutiny than any existing member. For the EU, the accession of Croatia is a demonstration of its “soft power” – its ability to persuade countries to implement difficult and unpopular reforms. Continue reading »

Ivica Todoric, the bullish owner of Agrokor, Croatia’s largest company, has, after many years of wooing, secured a majority stake in Mercator, Slovenia’s biggest retailer and largest employer.

Agrokor has announced that it has agreed with Mercator shareholders to take a 53.1 per cent stake in the company for €240m. The deal values Mercator at €120 per share, substantially below the €221 Agrokor reportedly offered last year. Continue reading »

By Gunter Deuber of Raiffeisen Bank International

The 28th member country of the EU will not raise the economic profile of the bloc. For in recent years, the Croatian economy has been one of the weakest in Europe.

But if Croatian policy makers are banking on EU accession creating a “halo-effect” of capital inflows, they will most likely be disappointed. The only way the country will benefit from membership will be through modernisation and structural reforms. Continue reading »

Slovenia’s former prime minister has been found guilty of taking bribes in a €278m arms deal in the biggest case of alleged corruption to surface in the troubled ex-Yugoslav republic.

Janez Jansa follows two other former premiers in the south east Europe to be convicted of financial wrongdoing, the ex-leaders of Croatia and Romania. Meanwhile in Serbia, the country’s richest businessman was arrested late last year for alleged embezzlement. A long-run campaign by the EU against corruption in its present and future new member states may finally be producing results. Continue reading »

By Luka Orešković of Provectus Capital

Croatia is struggling. Set to become the the second former Yugoslav Republic to join the European Union in just five weeks’ time (after Slovenia, which joined in 2004), Croatia has been in recession since 2009, despite being blessed with more than 4,300 km of often stunning coastline and a hinterland rich with fertile soil. Continue reading »

A $400m credit deal signed by Croatian energy company INA gives it the opportunity to push ahead with long-term growth plans while also providing a welcome vote of confidence in the country’s economy. Continue reading »

By Guy Norton of bne

Since declaring independence in 1991, Croatia has lost a staggering 80 per cent of its manufacturing base.

But if the long-cherished plans of a couple of Croatian companies come to fruition, the country could soon become known as the home of an innovative, high-tech automotive industry that builds on the proud legacy of one of its most famous sons, electrical engineering genius Nikola Tesla. Continue reading »