Mercury Public Affairs is representing Zagreb-based Fortenova grupa d.d., the food and beverage company that is the largest privately owned business in Croatia.

Fortenova, which is 49.9 percent owned by sanctioned Russian banks Sherbank and VTBE, put itself on the auction block last month.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Sherbank tried but failed to unload its ownership position in Fortenova.

In announcing the hunt for a buyer, Fortenova noted that though it is not subject to sanctions, the Russian ownership “complicates business operations and negatively affects the value of the company for all stakeholders” and “makes it impossible to reach a sustainable and efficient capital structure.”

Fortenova has hired Lazard to run the auction and expects to find a buyer sometime in September.

The company reported 2022 revenues of $5.8B and employs more than 45K people

Peter Kucik, Mercury managing director, is handling the work for Fortenova.

He spent seven years at the US Treasury’s Dept. of Foreign Control, where he was senior sanctions policy advisor.

Kucik played a role in slapping federal sanctions on Libya and Myanmar and the easing of travel restrictions to Cuba during the Obama administration.

Omnicom owns Mercury.