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Hungary raises Ft 37 bln from Mol stake sale

Hungary raised about Ft 37 billion ($194 million) from selling its last shares in Mol Nyrt, eastern Europe's largest oil company, completing a sale process first started by the government 11 years ago.

The government sold 1.7 million shares on the Budapest Stock Exchange (BÉT) yesterday at an average price of Ft 21,592 per share, the bourse said in a statement. The highest accepted price was Ft 22,000 and the lowest was Ft 21,400, it added. Hungary, which has sold most of its state-owned companies since communism fell 17 years ago, has gradually made Mol a public company since its initial public offering in November 1995 at a price of Ft 1,100.

Budapest-based Mol is now worth 19 times as much, after spending more than $1 billion expanding in eastern Europe. „The government, as expected, rid itself of its last Mol stake,” said Péter Tordai, an analyst with KBC Securities. „It was a successful auction with mostly west European funds and some local investors buying, and the price is fair.”

The country auctioned the shares after local investors failed to buy them at an earlier sale in late November. Only 8.4% of the state's remaining 1.7% stake was sold at that time. Mol shares fell Ft 245, or 1.1%, to 21,750 forint in Budapest. They have gained 9% this year, while Hungary's benchmark BUX Index rose 12.7%. (Bloomberg)