Disagreement causes Croatia-MOL meeting cancellation

Deals

A meeting scheduled for Friday between negotiators of Hungarian oil and gas company MOL and the Croatian government on amending an agreement between the two biggest shareholders in Croatia-based INA has been postponed, Croatian news agency HINA reported today, citing a government source.

The government decided to postpone the meeting after MOL did not agree to the proposed topic on the management model in the Croatian oil and gas company, reported HINA. The government source would not say if MOL’s refusal to discuss the management model in INA was considered pressure on Croatia after the country requested the issue of an international arrest for MOL’s chief executive.

MOL communications director Domokos Szollár said MOL had not been officially informed that the negotiations had been suspended or postponed. “We, too, [have] read this information in the Croatian media, thus we do not wish to comment,” he added.

MOL owns a little under 50% of INA’s shares, with the Croatian state is the other major stakeholder. The two shareholders have often been at odds over the way the company is managed, and tensions rose early in October after Croatian police issued an arrest warrant for MOL chairman/CEO Zsolt Hernádi, who is suspected of bribing former Croatian prime minister Ivo Sanader to give MOL management rights in INA.

Hungary’s government responded to the issue of the warrant saying the Croatian government intended to use “unbusinesslike tools” to “pressure” MOL into parting with its stake in INA without making a buyout offer.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban said later that Hungary’s “extraordinary” long-standing relationship with Croatia was far dearer than MOL’s stake in INA.

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