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MOL bid for INA unchanged; no rival offers by deadline

Hungarian oil and gas company MOL did not raise its price in a buyout offer for a 30% stake in Croatian peer INA, nor did any rivals make a counterbid for the stake by the deadline on Tuesday, Croatian news agency Hina reported, citing an announcement by market watchdog HANFA.

MOL announced a public purchase offer for the 30% stake at a price of HRK 2,800 per share on September 5. The buyout offer runs until October 3. Rival bids for the stake could be submitted until ten days before the end of MOL's offer, which was Tuesday.

INA's board said earlier MOL's bid was acceptable in light of market conditions, but small shareholders complained the price was too low. By Monday, just 7,736 of the slightly more than 3 million INA shares MOL wants to buy had been submitted in the offer.

MOL already owns 25% of INA and it is in talks with the government on the sale of the 45% state-owned stake in the company.

The state could decide to hang on to a 25% stake in INA until Croatia joins the EU, tentatively around 2011, and part with a 19% stake in a share swap, Reuters reported. Talks on the stake are expected to be completed in November.

If MOL acquires the 19% stake, it would need just 6% of INA shares to give it a majority in the company.

“It does not seem very likely that MOL will manage to collect 6% given the discontent among shareholders with the price, but I can expect them to focus on buying shares directly on the bourse after the bid,” Hrvoje Stojic, an analyst of Hypo Alpe-Adria-Bank, told Reuters. (MTI – Econews)