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Bosnia sells Energopetrol to MOL-INA team

The government, pressured by a bank's foreclosure on the retailer's long-overdue loan, said late on Thursday it had accepted a draft agreement initialled by MOL , INA (Industria Nafte d.d.) and its commission on the sale of the company, which has Bosnia's largest fuel retail network, Reuters reported. The consortium agreed to pay 10.2 million Bosnian marka ($6.7 million) for the majority stake and 60.2 million marka for servicing debt, including 14.6 million marka in reserves. Energopetrol has 66 service stations. The agreement needs a go-ahead from Energopetrol's supervisory board and shareholders' assembly and then needs to be signed by Federation Prime Minister Ahmet Hadzipasic, the government said in a statement. It did not mention possible dates. Under the contract, the MOL/INA consortium would acquire a 67% stake in the retailer, while the government and small shareholders would keep stakes of 22% and 11% respectively over the next three years. MOL/INA have also pledged 150 million marka in investment, which would not affect the company's ownership structure, and to cover the company's losses in 2005-2006, the government said. The deal is regarded as the biggest sell-off of the year, and officials say they hope it will revive a stalled privatisation process in the Balkan country, which needs foreign investment to speed up economic recovery. Bank Austria Creditanstalt announced in May it would foreclose on a 20 million marka loan backed by 20 Energopetrol's service stations and its main office building since the government had failed to complete the deal. The bank blocked Energopetrol's accounts last week, but it said that it would stop the foreclosure if a deal were reached. "Since the deal has been agreed, we expect the bank to unblock our accounts," Nusret Mamic of the Energopetrol's trade union told the Dnevni Avaz newspaper on Thursday. (Portfolio)