Croatia to Abandon Attempt to Buy Back INA Oil Company Shares?

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ZAGREB, December 5, 2018 – Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Tuesday that, if Croatia and Hungary failed to reach agreement on the price at which MOL’s stake in the INA oil company would be bought back by Croatia, that problem would become insurmountable because no one was in a position to set aside more funds than they could or should.

Responding to a reporter’s question at a news conference after a summit of the Central European Initiative (CEI) in Zagreb, Plenković said that Hungary and Croatia had different views on the issue of the INA oil company. “The price of restoring Croatian ownership of INA is not something that can be negotiated overnight nor is it that simple. Quite the contrary, we are aware of its complexity and ultimately, if we do not agree on a price, in my opinion, that may become an insurmountable problem because nobody can set aside more funds than they can or should,” said Plenković.

The Croatian government has estimates, he said. “We have rough estimates. What varies are broader details that can be important for energy companies, their future prospects and relevant global trends. However, we haven’t done anything wrong in this case, quite the contrary, I believe that our decisions have been good and that that fact has even helped deal constructively with certain processes and problems. That was the content, spirit and tone of our meeting yesterday,” said Plenković.

He reiterated that after his meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Zagreb on Monday it was concluded that relations between Croatia and Hungary were very good and free of outstanding issues in terms of their good neighbourly relations, as well as that there were no problems in the two countries’ relations regarding INA and MOL.

Prime Minister Orban said yesterday that Hungary saw the INA-MOL situation as an issue concerning the two companies.

In late 2016, Plenković said that the Croatian government had decided to restore its ownership of the INA oil company by buying back MOL’s stake in INA, after Croatia lost a case filed against MOL before the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law in Geneva.

In mid-January last year, the government formed a council for negotiations with MOL regarding the possible purchase of shares held by that Hungarian company in INA, and in April this year it selected a consortium consisting of Morgan Stanley, Intesa Sanpaolo Group and Privredna Banka Zagreb as its investment consultant for the possible purchase of the stake and its possible subsequent sale to INA’s new strategic partner. However, a contract with the consultants has not been signed yet.

For more on the INA-MOL problems, click here.


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