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Croatian market watchdog cautions MOL against “unverified” statements

In a statement published on its web site, Croatian Financial Services Supervisory Agency (HANFA) warned Hungarian oil and gas company MOL on Wednesday not to send “incorrect and unverified information” to small shareholders and potential investors of Croatian oil and gas company INA.

It also said that MOL should refrain from trying to affect HANFA's work.

MOL said on December 2 that it decided to make a purchase offer for shares of INA in free float. The offer price was HRK 2,800 per share, the same as the price in a public purchase offer made in the autumn of 2008, but a 60% premium on the actual price before the offer. MOL holds a 47.2% stake in INA and the Croatian state owns 44.8%, thus acquiring the remaining shares would give MOL a controlling stake in INA.

Shares of INA rose a sharp 64% to HRK 2,830 on Tuesday following a seven-day suspension, up on MOL's offer price.

A spokesman for MOL said in Zagreb that transactions involving INA shares on the Zagreb Stock Exchange on Tuesday and on Wednesday were not transparent and were unfair, unclear and hostile towards MOL, as well as that they could also be illegal and should therefore be investigated by HANFA.

HANFA said on Wednesday that the MOL spokesman's statements were inappropriate and called on MOL to refrain from such statements because as a party in the planned private offer to buy shares held by INA's small shareholders, it was sending the small shareholders and potential investors incorrect and unverified information, as well as affecting HANFA's work in a way that could bring into question its autonomy and independence.

“HANFA has been continually monitoring real-time trading in the shares listed on the Zagreb Stock Exchange and if it detects any irregularities, it acts in line with its legal powers with the aim of protecting the investors. In that regard, it is entirely unnecessary and inappropriate to call on HANFA through the media to investigate transactions,” HANFA said in the statement. (MTI-Econews)