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MOL open to talks with Croatian govt on shared ownership of INA

ungarian oil and gas company MOL is open to talks with the Croatian government on their shared ownership of Croatian energy company INA, MOL said on Friday.

MOL said it proposes that negotiations be used to debate questions that have remained open for a long time, among them fulfilling the Gas Framework Agreement.

Croatia's government on Thursday said it wanted new talks with MOL on INA. "The goal of talks is to ensure more efficient implementation of the goals from the shareholder agreement, especially in relation to national energy stability, and improvement of the business results and INA's market position in Croatia and southeastern Europe," the government said. "We think that these goals have not been met," it added.

Croatian news agency HINA on Thursday said the Croatian government would ask in writing for a meeting with MOL this week. The Croatian delegation is to include Economy Minister Djuro Popijac, Finance Minister Martina Dalicand and INA supervisory board chairman Davor Stern.

MOL holds 47.46pc of INA and has an option to buy another 1.6pc of shares. The Croatian government owns 44.8pc.

MOL made a public purchase offer for the 8pc of INA shares in free float last December. MOL offered HRK 2,800 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 0.1pc in the offer.

Purchases of INA shares by foreign parties made after the latest offer ended have come under scrutiny by Croatian financial market regulator HANFA. The watchdog recently suspended trade in INA shares indefinitely until a procedure can establish whether regulations have been broken with regard to "price-sensitive information". It also filed criminal charges against MOL on suspicion of market manipulation.

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 latest purchase offer ended.