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Hungary to sell remaining stake in Mol from tomorrow

Hungary's government will start selling its remaining 1.73% stake in Mol Nyrt, the country's largest energy company, tomorrow, the state asset sales agency said today.

Hungary is selling the Mol stake worth Ft 39.9 billion forint ($198 million) to local individual investors and will auction the remaining shares via the Budapest Stock Exchange (BÉT). HVB Group's local unit will manage the sale, which ends December 1. The government set the maximum price at Ft 25,500, 18.5% higher than the closing price on November 17. Hungary has sold most of its state-owned companies since the fall of communism 17 years ago, gradually making Mol a public company since its initial public offering 11 years ago. The company is now worth 19 times as much, having spent more than $1 billion expanding in eastern Europe. “Naturally, we will strive to maximize privatization revenue from this transaction,” said István Somkúti, a deputy chief executive at the asset-sales agency. “We also expect to close the process of Mol privatization.” Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány's government, struggling to control the European Union's largest budget deficit, is selling its remaining state-owned companies. Hungary is offering stakes in mortgage lender Földhitel és Jelzálogbank Nyrt, national carrier Malév Zrt and the cargo unit of the railroads MÁV Zrt.

The government will give local individual investors a Ft 2,000, discount per share up to 75. They will be able to buy 125 further shares at the maximum price and must refrain from selling the discounted stock through April 27, said Zoltán Mester, who oversees the sale for HVB. Shares not purchased by December 1 will be auctioned on the BÉT on December 6. Mol in May bought 10 percent of its shares from the government to finance future acquisitions in eastern Europe. “We need further acquisitions, both in the area of exploration and production and in refining and marketing to reach the goals we set,” Mol CFO József Molnár said at a press conference today. The oil company then paid about Ft 21,800 forint a share, or Ft 238 billion ($1.16 billion) total. Mol had to sell treasury shares it held before the purchase as it's banned from buying more than 10% of its shares at a time. Mol has an option to buy those shares, or 14% of the company, now held by BNP Paribas SA and Magnolia Finance Ltd. (Bloomberg)