UPDATE 1-CEZ mulls next step on MOL stake as option nears expiry

Tue Jan 21, 2014 10:07am EST

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(Adds details, market source)

PRAGUE Jan 21 (Reuters) - Czech electricity producer CEZ said it was considering what to do with a 7 percent stake in Hungarian oil refiner MOL that it is likely to hold after an option for MOL itself to buy the shares expires on Thursday.

The call option on 7.68 million MOL shares has a strike price of 20,000 forints ($89.81), far above Tuesday's market price of 13,955 forints, which gives MOL no financial incentive to exercise the option.

MOL had no comment on its plans for the option.

"The date of the option expiration is not limiting in any way. CEZ is considering further action at the moment," CEZ said in response to emailed questions.

"The expiration ... of the option does not in itself have any impact on CEZ group results. Our exposure to MOL shares has been continuously re-evaluated in relation to the development of the share price and other market factors," it said.

A market source with close knowledge of CEZ said the company was looking at a plan to hold the shares for the next three years - rather than try to unwind the stake in the market - under a structure involving convertible bonds.

CEZ did not answer Reuters questions on such plans.

CEZ bought the 7 percent equity stake in MOL in 2008, when MOL was fighting a takeover attempt from Austria's OMV . It sold a call option to MOL at the same time, later extending it until Jan. 23, 2014. MOL has been paying a premium to CEZ for the option.

The firms also agreed to jointly build gas-fired power stations under what they called a strategic alliance. But that plan was abandoned as gas went out of favour due to a fall in electricity prices. ($1 = 222.6822 Hungarian forints) (Reporting by Jason Hovet, Jan Lopatka and Krisztina Than; editing by Jane Baird)

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