Croatia's largest food retailer Agrokor signed a 240-million-euro ($320 million) deal to acquire a 53-percent stake in its main regional rival, Slovenia's Mercator, the companies said in a statement.
"Through this merger Agrokor has become the largest retailer in central and eastern Europe," Agrokor's head Ivica Todorovic said in a statement published in Ljubljana late Friday after the signing of the deal.
Agrokor plans to make a takeover bid for the rest of the company at the end of the year.
"We are convinced that the conditions that have been agreed are the best possible under the circumstances," Slovenia's largest brewer Pivovarna Lasko, which owns a 23-percent-stake in Mercator, said.
"The weight of Pivovarna Lasko's debts is such that, after considering all the arguments, we have decided to back the transaction," Lasko's Vladimir Milenkovic had said earlier Frriday.
The takeover still has to be approved by the securities market agencies of all the former Yugoslav states in which both retailers are present.