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Croatian regulator extends INA share trade suspension indefinitely

Croatian financial market watchdog HANFA on Monday extended a suspension of trade in shares of oil and gas company INA indefinitely, HANFA said on its website.

HANFA originally suspended trade in INA shares from April 28 until May 6, and then extended the suspension to May 20 to give it more time to identify foreign buyers of the shares. The new suspension is to last until a procedure can establish whether regulations were broken with regard to "price-sensitive information", HANFA said.

MOL owns 47.75% of INA, according to the company's latest disclosure, and the Croatian government holds 44.84%.

MOL made a public purchase offer for the 8% of INA shares in free float last December. MOL offered 2,800 Croatian kuna a share, the same as the price in a public purchase offer it made in the autumn of 2008. But other market players appeared to outbid MOL, pushing the share price over the offer. MOL raised its stake by just 0.1% in the offer.

MOL has firmly rejected speculation that it was behind the purchases of INA shares under scrutiny by HANFA, but it has confirmed it bought INA shares from third parties after the purchase offer ended.

HANFA alleged last Wednesday that MOL manipulated markets in its public purchase offer in 2008 through "false and misleading" signals disseminated in the media.