Serbia’s privatisation agency yesterday sold a bankrupt department store chain with some of the country’s best real estate assets for €360m ($519m, £252m) in a deal that could help make the retail market more competitive. The Times

RK Beograd, a leading state controlled non-food retailer that went bust last year, has 250,000 sq m of floor space at 36 locations – 10 in Belgrade, 24 elsewhere in Serbia and two in Montenegro.

Verana Motors, the local dealer for Peugeot cars, outbid nine contenders. Marfin Investment Group (MIG), an Athens-based real estate investor, announced itself after the sale as a majority partner behind the Verona Motors bid, which positioned the Greek firm to become 66.6% owner of the Serbian department stores.

The Serbian market of 8 million people is relatively under-served with shopping centres, on a per capita basis, leaving room for rapid growth.

Delta, a Belgrade-based food and retail group, has a stranglehold in the country, tightened through new investments, takeovers and privatisations.