Vrdoljak: Cooperation with gov’t acid test for potential INA investor


Croatia's Economy Minister Ivan Vrdoljak has welcomed interest in the purchase of Hungarian oil and gas company MOL's stake in Croatian peer INA, but said any investor has to first test its ability to cooperate with the Croatian government, INA's other big owner, Croatian news agency HINA said on Friday.

"Anyone wishing to buy INA shares should discuss with the Croatian government the company's development strategy so that the company can be run together with that strategic partner, and all partners are welcome, including those from the U.S. which have been mentioned lately," HINA quoted Vrdoljak as saying.

The economy minister was referring to a report by Bloomberg that Klesch Group, owned by the American Gary Klesch, is doing due diligence on INA.

MOL holds a little less than 50% of INA's shares, but has management rights in the company. The state of Croatia owns about 45%. A perceived lack of investment in the company by MOL and the state's failure to take over INA's loss-making gas business, as stipulated in a shareholders agreement, have been sources of tension between the two stakeholders.

Both stakeholders are in arbitration, and MOL CFO József Simola said earlier in the week that MOL would consider selling its stake in INA if talks with the government failed.



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