Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic said on Tuesday that the government would approve a decision on a strategic partner for the Badel 1862 alcoholic beverages company if such a decision was made by the Restructuring and Sale Centre (CERP).

"This is an excellent company, with a long history going back some 150 years. As a former financier, I have come here to see what the situation is like and in what direction Badel is going. I congratulated the management on everything they did in restructuring the company," Oreskovic told the press after touring the company's plant in Zagreb.

Since only 40 percent of the company's wine and alcoholic beverages production capacity was used, Oreskovic said that there was a huge potential for increasing income and profit. "A decision on a strategic partner will not be made tomorrow, but it will be made soon," he said in answer to questions from the press.

Asked if the present, caretaker government could approve a decision on strategic partnership if it were made by CERP, Oreskovic said that the government would approve it and would do everything in accordance with the law and in Croatia's interests.

Asked if the government had overstepped its powers by making various decisions in a caretaker capacity, the PM said: "Absolutely not." He said that the government was meeting on Wednesday and that there would be some 35 items on the agenda, "each of them in line with the law."

"We will not do anything that is contrary to the law. There will be reports and regulations concerning alignment with EU legislation," Oreskovic said.

Badel 1862 CEO Ivo Markotic said that for three years now the company had been looking for an investor that would carry out recapitalisation. "Time is important to us, not just to the company, but also to the employees and stakeholders. It should be as soon as possible," he told the press.

Markotic said that a decision on strategic partnership would be made by a government commission, adding that four companies had responded to Badel's call for financial and operational restructuring as part of a pre-bankruptcy settlement procedure.

The government holds a 67.68% stake in the company.

Badel 1862 ended 2015 with a net profit of HRK 11.8 million, following six years of losses. Operating income was HRK 314 million, up 10% over 2014, and sales income increased by 5% to HRK 296.2 million.

(EUR 1 = HRK 7.48)

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