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INA problems “can be sorted”, “common ground” sought

Deals

MOL supervisory board chairman György Mosonyi gave an interview to Reuters on Friday that’s currently making the rounds in Hungarian and Croatian media; within, Mosonyi states that the differences between his company and the Croatian government over ownership issues involving Croatia-based INA “can be sorted out.”

Of course, Mosonyi may be arguing from a position of strength based on MOL’s threat to bring a big-money breach-of-contract lawsuit against the national government.

MOL currently holds a stake of about 49% in INA while the Croatian government owns approximately 45%. Relations between the parties have been rocky since at least 2008, when former Croatian prime minister Ivo Sanader was found guilty of accepting €5 million in bribes from MOL.

While negotiations are start to begin this week, MOL has thrown down something of a gauntlet in the form of the €264 million lawsuit, a move that has some suggesting that the Hungary-based oil-and-gas giant has the upper hand in the talks already.

Indeed, Mosonyi may already be looking forward to an INA future led by MOL. “We cannot accept the blame that we are not investing enough,” he told Reuters. “We want to invest more, far more in refining, in retail, in upstream, but we need the support of the other shareholder who has the right to issue permits,” i.e. the Croatian government.

However, MOL’s sparring partner is talking tough, too. While promising to protect INA’s management structure and its employees from layoffs as of primary importance in discussions, Croatia’s National Economy Minister Ivan Vrdoljak stated that “while I am Minister of Economy, INA will never be a subsidiary of MOL, but a separate company in which MOL and the Republic of Croatia may find common ground. This will be the first requirement of the negotiations.”

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