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MOL rumors fuel bourse trading in Budapest

Approximately 70% of yesterday's Ft 53 billion ($292.7 million) trading volume at the Budapest Stock Exchange involved the shares of oil and gas company MOL.

According to Attila Tapaszi of the Takarékbank, the heightened interest for the energy firm's papers was generated by market rumors that Austrian peer OMV is negotiating a €13.5 billion ($18.3 billion) credit line with Barclays and JP Morgan, a sum it aims to use for continuing its buyout measures targeting the Hungarian company. The Austrians have yet to release an official response to the news. MOL figures were also elevated thanks to the company's continued purchases of its treasury shares.

Market analysts say that if the oil company continues with its defense strategy, it may even contribute to strengthening the national currency, as it would have to convert its cash reserves stored in foreign currencies to forint.

OMV spokesman Thomas Huemer told yesterday that OMV's stance towards MOL has not changed since last week, when the Austrian company announced it had raised it stake in MOL to 18.6% from 10% and called on MOL's management to enter into a “constructive discussion” on the merits of closer co-operation between the two companies. “We remain convinced that a rational approach is better than an emotional one,” Huemer said, touching on the negative reaction by MOL's management and leading Hungarian politicians to OMV's move. (Gazdasági Rádió, Napi Gazdaság,