IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is providing a loan of €25 million to Serbian ice-cream and frozen food producer Frikom to increase production, processing and harvesting capacity of the company. In addition, Credit Agricole Serbia is providing a €15 million parallel loan to Frikom.
IFC and Credit Agricole are supporting Frikom’s parent company, 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.”
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.
“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. “This loan demonstrates the confidence of one of the world’s leading financial institutions in Agrokor’s business strategy, and strengthens our ability to make considerable improvements at Frikom.”
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.