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MOL discloses INA share purchases, option to Croatian market watchdog

Hungarian oil and gas company MOL on Tuesday said it bought 21,009 shares in Croatian peer INA in four transactions through brokers on the OTC market or on the Zagreb Stock Exchange, answering a question by Croatian financial market watchdog HANFA.

MOL also has an option to buy 1.6% of INA shares, it told HANFA.

MOL said it held 4,746,629 INA shares ─ of a total of 10,000,000 ─ on the accounts of custodians and sub-custodians.

MOL published the answers to HANFA's questions that were not subject to business confidentiality on its website. MOL responded to a letter from HANFA dated May 9. MOL said it answered the letter within the set deadline by May 16.

MOL said it sent a separate letter to HANFA disclosing "all relevant facts to its best knowledge, which HANFA did not ask for, but which might be relevant to HANFA."

"MOL voluntarily disclosed that 1.6% of INA shares are subject of an option agreement concluded by MOL. These shares are not yet acquired by MOL, and even if the option rights were exercised, this would not trigger any disclosure obligation," MOL said.

HANFA on Monday extended a suspension of trade in shares of oil and gas company INA for a second time until May 20, HANFA said on its website.

HANFA originally suspended trade in INA shares from April 28 until May 6 to give it more time to identify foreign buyers of the shares. Near the end of the period, it extended the suspension for another week.

The latest extension came as HANFA said it was still waiting for MOL to answer questions on the acquisition of INA shares.

MOL owns 47.75% of INA 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 per 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 in the Croatian press that it was behind buying INA shares under scrutiny by HANFA, but it has confirmed it bought INA shares from third parties after the purchase offer ended.