The EBRD is lending Zitoluks, a baked goods producer in FYR Macedonia, €8mn to help the company expand, refurbish existing outlets across the country and become more efficient. The loan is the bank’s first to a private company in the agribusiness sector in the country.

The eight-year loan is being provided under a new €25mn EBRD facility to work alongside companies linked to Greece’s Filippou Investments Group, an international food and packaging company, that are willing to initiate or expand existing operations in Southeast Europe.

The loan to Zitoluks, a subsidiary of Elbisco Holding, which is part of the Filippou group, is the first under the facility. It will also help improve corporate governance standards across Zitoluks and increase efficiency through improved technology, marketing and production standards.

Hans Christian Jacobsen, director of agribusiness at the EBRD, says the project should establish a good basis for cooperation between Filippous Investments as a strategic investor and the EBRD as an institution that wants to promote private-sector growth in its region of operations. As well as benefiting FYR Macedonia’s food sector through improved competition, the project will lead to an increase in demand of local raw material from suppliers, Jacobsen adds.

Kyriakos Filippou, president of Elbisco Holding, says: “Our group is a Greek group of companies with dynamic growth both in domestic and foreign markets. Our goal is to further strengthen the role of our companies abroad, so that they may contribute more substantially to our strategy for success. I am glad that with the support of our new partner – the EBRD – we can carry out the investments in Zitoluks and grow our operations in FYR Macedonia.”

Elbisco Holding consolidates controlling stakes in four Greek companies, as well as three companies abroad, including Zitoluks, Helberica in Spain and Karat in Bulgaria, and minority stakes in several other food and packaging companies. The loan to Zitoluks is part of Elbisco’s strategy to strengthen its recently acquired businesses in FYR Macedonia. Elbisco Holding is listed on the Athens Stock Exchange.

The EBRD is the largest investor in the agribusiness sector across its 27 countries of operations, worth more than €3bn in 202 investments.