ZAGREB, June 24, 2018 – The Croatian government has confirmed the receipt of a letter which US company Castleton Commodities International (CCI) sent to Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković in mid-March, expressing its interest in being a new strategic partner to Croatia’s oil company INA.
The news about the letter was broken by the Zagreb-based Jutarnji List daily newspaper on Saturday morning, and following a query from the commercial broadcaster N1 about the matter, the Croatian government confirmed later in the day it had received the letter in which one of CCI’s presidents, Fabrizio Zichichi, says CCI is willing to finance the buy-back of Hungarian energy group MOL’s shareholding in INA.
The government recalls that on 19 Janaury 2017, it set up a council for negotiations with MOL.
The council, which is chaired by the prime minister and which also comprises the ministers of foreign affairs, finance, state property management, environment protection and energy, justice and labour, is supposed to outline guidelines for the talks, take necessary measure as well as suggest which decisions to be made by the government concerning the preparation, implementation and financing of the procedure for possible buy-back of MOL’s stock in the leading Croatian oil and gas group, in which its Hungarian peer holds some 49% and the Croatian government about 44%.
Furthermore, on 10 April this year, the international consortium of Morgan Stanley, Intesa San Paolo and Privredna Banka Zagreb was selected as an investment consultant for a possible buyback of INA stocks from MOL.
The investment consultant is expected to consider all forms of transactions for the repurchase of shares available to the government as a client and possible sale of that stake to prospective strategic partners as well as to consider and propose the most appropriate structure and time framework of the pertaining transactions, according to the government’s press release.
The interest expressed by Castleton Commodities International will be considered within this process, says the press release.
In late 2016, Plenković said that the Croatian government had decided to regain ownership of the INA oil and gas company by buying the entire stake held by the Hungarian energy group MOL, after Zagreb lost the lawsuit it filed against MOL before the Arbitral Tribunal of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) in Geneva.
The Hungarian company has said that it is open for the talks on INA’s future and is waiting for an official notification from Zagreb.