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OMV revokes declaration of intent to merge with MOL - extended

Austrian oil company OMV announced on Wednesday morning that it had revoked its intention published on September 25, 2007 to make an offer to MOL shareholders of Ft 32,000 per share.

The OMV announcement noted that the European Commission had issued a Statement of Objections on June 16, 2008 outlining its concerns regarding OMV’s potential combination with MOL. Further pursuit of proposed combination with MOL under given conditions would be against OMV’s economic and strategic rationale, the OMV announcement said.

Despite the failed merger, OMV said it was now “considering various options to maximize the value” of its stake in MOL. Although the Austrian group gave up on the takeover, legal battles between the two companies will carry on.

While OMV will continue to fight MOL’s buy-back of shares in court, MOL is suing OMV for libel. The Austrian company had accused its Hungarian peer of leaking Commission documents to the public.

“It was a bit foolish to start this game at all if there were significant competition concerns,” Péter Tordai, an analyst with KBC Securities in Budapest, said by telephone to Bloomberg. Tordai said OMV may consider selling its stake to a competitor, such as Gazprom or LUKoil.

“MOL pays highlighted attention to shareholders’ interests and closely monitors potential opportunities regarding the existing 20% holdings in OMV’s hands,” MOL said in a filing with the Budapest Stock Exchange. MOL did not give any further details. It said OMV’s takeover approach had lacked business and strategic rationale and raised very serious competition issues. (MTI-Econews, Bg, Reuters)