MOL-INA talks stall, MOL would sell stake

Deals

Talks between Hungarian oil and gas group MOL and the Croatian government, the two major shareholders of Croatian energy group INA, have been stalled since last summer, MOL Chairman Zsolt Hernádi (pictured) said yesterday at a public press conference, according to Hungarian news agency MTI.

"There are no talks whatsoever, the last negotiation round was at the end of last summer. It is radio silence," Hernádi told a news conference following the annual general meeting of MOLʼs shareholders.

Hernádi added that MOL continued to manage the company "independent of the present political environment" but also prepared to sell its stake, as announced earlier, but the process took longer than originally expected.

MOL intends to operate INA in "a normal environment according to normal conditions, attentive to Croatian strategic interests as long as these do not diametrically contradict market developments", Hernádi said.

"In view of these (real developments in the market), the current Croatian refinery model (with two refineries) can not be maintained in its present structure", the chairman added, recalling that there is unused refining capacity in Europe. "The Croatian government is aware of this, but in an election year (in Croatia) political arguments prevail over business logic," he said.

Hernádi repeated that selling MOLʼs INA stake was also an option, "there are contenders from a number of countries", and he said that MOL was prepared to sell its stake to anyone who knows the situation and thinks a positive change in the Croatian political environment surrounding INA was possible. He recalled that MOL had already offered the stake to the Croatian government, but they refused to bid.

Since the mid-February, MOL CEO Zsolt Hernádi has, once again, been listed on International Criminal Police Organization’s (Interpol) most wanted persons list after Croatian police issued a warrant for his arrest in the autumn of 2013 on suspicion of bribing former Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader.

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