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MOL wins almost 47% of INA

  Hungary’s MOL has won 21.7% of Croatian oil group INA in a public bid, raising its stake to 46.7%, but it may still gain a majority as final results will be known only later this week.

Croatia’s Central Depository Agency (SDA) said on its website on Monday MOL had won 2.17 million INA shares at 2,800 kuna ($544.9) per share in a tender that closed on Friday and valued Croatia’s largest energy firm at 28 billion kuna. However, because investors were also allowed to send their sell orders by mail -- and many private investors were likely to do that instead of queuing at SDA -- the agency has yet to count all shares tendered and will have final results only on Thursday. Wednesday is a public and market holiday. INA shareholders offered 1,935,789 shares in the buyout by Friday. A day earlier -- when the local press showed images of a “kilometer-long line” of investors in Zagreb waiting to part with their shares -- the number of shares offered was just 358,000.

Analysts say that if MOL falls just short of a majority, it can probably buy more shares on the stock exchange, where the price is likely to fall after the tender closed. INA closed 3.9% higher at 2,649 kuna on Friday -- the last day of the tender.

MOL is later this month expected to resume talks with the Zagreb government, which holds 44% of INA, on a new shareholders’ agreement. The talks could also involve a possible share swap scheme or sale of a further INA stake to MOL. The government’s holding was not a subject of the public bid.

Interest among local small shareholders and institutional investors rose sharply last week, following the global market turmoil and fall of stock prices across the board. Initially, they said MOL’s offer was too low and hoped for a counterbid by MOL’s regional rival Austria’s OMV. OMV later said it had no intention of competing with MOL’s bid.

INA is a dominant fuel retailer in Croatia also present in neighboring former Yugoslav countries. It has upstream and downstream segments and is involved in gas and oil exploration and drilling in the Middle East and Africa. (Reuters, MTI)