Agency rejects MOL allegation of market manipulation on INA shares

13 January 2011 18:04  [Source: ICIS news]

PRAGUE (ICIS)--An allegation of market manipulation aimed at blocking an attempt by Hungarian group MOL to obtain a majority stakeholding in Croatia's INA has been rejected by the Croatian Competition Agency (AZTN), the agency said on Thursday.

Oil, gas and petrochemical group MOL made the claim in December after its buyout price offer to small shareholders of oil company INA was suddenly outstripped by INA's share price on the Zagreb stock exchange.

AZTN, which probed the trading in the stock at the request of MOL, said the price surge was driven by demand for the shares from Croatian pension funds and that all their purchases were within market rules.

MOL owns 47.15% of INA, while the Croatian state holds 44.84%.

MOL's buyout bid was aimed at the remaining 8.01% of INA shares, which remain in free float, with the intention of gaining majority control of the company. However, the Croatian government has opposed the move.

The offer made to the small shareholders by MOL expires on Friday.

MOL wants to exploit refining and petrochemical feedstock potential that it sees in INA.

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By: Will Conroy
+44 20 8652 3214

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