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Dutch court strips Sberbank-affiliated firm of voting rights in Fortenova

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - A Dutch court has ruled that a company affiliated to Russian state bank Sberbank Rossii PAO cannot exercise voting rights in Croatian food producer Fortenova Grupa in which it has 42.5% stake, Fortenova said on Friday.

The Amsterdam Court of Appeal ruled that Russia-based SBK Art, through which Sberbank holds 42.5% of votes in the Fortenova Group, is under Western sanctions and so has no voting rights and cannot attend the meetings of Fortenova Group shareholders, Fortenova said on its website.

In November, Sberbank, which acquired a majority stake in Fortenova in a 2018 restructuring deal and is currently subject to Western sanctions, said that it sold its stake in Fortenova to Saif Bin Markhan Alketbi, an investor from the United Arab Emirates.

Fortenova said it had not been officially notified of the deal and has prevented Alketbi's representatives from attending the meeting of the company's shareholders.

Earlier this month, the European Union Council, responding to a request from Croatia, added SBK ART to its sanctions list in accordance with a 9th package of sanctions against "legal and natural persons" related to Russia and Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Croatia said last month it did not know about the transaction involving the Sberbank stake sale and has questioned the validity of the deal.

Formerly known as Agrokor, Fortenova is one of the biggestcompanies in southeastern Europe. It was saved from bankruptcyin a restructuring deal with local and foreign creditors inmid-2018, which included a change of name and ownershipstructure making Sberbank the biggest single shareholder. The European Union placed Sberbank under sanctions in June,cutting it off from the SWIFT international transaction systemafter Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)