Hungary's MOL could increase stake in Croatian refiner INA

19 December 2011 16:58  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Croatia has lifted its ban on trading in shares of INA, potentially clearing the way for Hungarian oil, gas and petrochemical group MOL to move to a majority shareholding in the refiner, analysts said on Monday.

KBC Securities said the move may signal improving relations between MOL and the Croatian government that could allow it to at last build on its 47% stake in INA.

Investment bank Wood & Company cautioned, however, that a hidden deal between MOL and ministers, in which MOL has agreed not to pursue ownership of more than 50%, may be in place.

Trading in the shares was suspended in May by the Croatian financial regulator CFSSA which launched an investigation into suspicious trading during MOL’s failed attempt to buy out minority shareholders of the firm, for which it has refining and petrochemical feedstock plans.

The government said it was against the buyout, claiming MOL had not properly consulted ministers prior to its launch and that MOL majority control of the country’s key refiner may not be in the national interest.

Relations between MOL and the Croatian government were further strained when former Croatian prime minister Ivo Sanader was accused of corruption in connection with facilitating the acquisition of management rights at Croatian refiner INA by MOL.

Sanader is currently in mid-trial. MOL categorically denies any wrongdoing in connection with its acquisition of the INA management rights.

By: Will Conroy
+44 20 8652 3214

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