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Croatia: “We want to open talks with MOL” on INA

Issues

Croatian government representatives have announced that they are currently seeking to enter into discussions with MOL regarding the two parties’ relationship in Croatian oil and gas company INA. MOL currently holds a stake of about 49% in the company, while the Croatian government’s share is just under 45%.

The relationship between the two have often been characterized as “harried” at best, and since Croatia entered the European Union as a member state, the country’s government has sought to clear up management issues, particularly a potential restructuring of INA’s shareholders agreement.

Representing the Croatian side in negotiations would be Economy Minister Ivan Vrdoljak and State Asset Management Office Head Mladen Pejnovic; Vrdoljak was quoted as having stated in a cabinet meeting that “We believe INA can become a more successful company than it is now and that is the reason why we want to open talks with MOL.”

Though describing MOL relations with the Croatian government as “getting worse”, the Austrian Press Agency (APA), an unnamed source reported that MOL would be open to resolving the dispute, an opinion echoed by MOL Communications Director Domokos Szollár in local media. 

The proposed talks with MOL comes just weeks after Croatian prosecutors renewed investigation into MOL’s Chairman Zsolt Hernádi’s role in a €5 million bribery case connected with INA structure. Former Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader was found guilty of accepting said bribe, allegedly from MOL, in exchange for full management rights in the November 2008 court decision, as well as in a second case involving Austria-based Hypo Alpe-Adria-Bank. 

The investigation of Hernádi by the Croatian law enforcement body USKOK is ongoing.

--With contributions from Gergő Rácz and Gabor Pakozdi

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