Croatia's INA profit falls as feuding owners prepare new talks

ZAGREB, April 30 Wed Apr 30, 2014 5:32am EDT

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ZAGREB, April 30 (Reuters) - Croatian oil and gas group INA , in the throes of a power struggle between its two main shareholders, reported on Wednesday an eight percent drop in first-quarter net profit.

Net profit fell to 241 million kuna ($44 million) from 261 million kuna in the first quarter last year, while sales fell 22 percent to 5.54 billion kuna, INA said in a statement.

"Our sales fell in the first quarter due to lower average prices of hydrocarbons, lower domestic hydrocarbons production, lower refinery margins and lower sales of oil derivatives abroad," it said.

Hungarian energy group MOL owns just below 50 percent and the Croatian government close to 45 percent of INA, one of Croatia's biggest companies which employs 13,500 people.

Relations between the two have been strained in recent years over management rights and investment policy.

Talks to reach an understanding started last September but have been slow and yielded no concrete results so far.

A new round of talks, the first since mid-January, is tentatively scheduled for next week.

MOL has said it is ready to sell its INA stock if no agreement with Zagreb is reached within a reasonable period of time.

($1 = 5.5053 Croatian Kunas) (Reporting by Igor Ilic; Editing by Zoran Radosavljevic and Mark Potter)

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