* Agreed to buy Eni's minority stake in Ceska Rafinerska
* Unipetrol has pre-emption right to buy Ceska stake -MOL
(Adds PKN comment, updates MOL share price)
By Krisztina Than
BUDAPEST, May 7 Hungarian oil and gas group MOL
said it had agreed to buy Eni's Czech, Slovak
and Romanian units, including 208 filling stations, in a move to
build market share, particularly in the Czech retail market.
MOL said on Wednesday it had also signed an agreement to buy
the Italian oil company's minority stake in Ceska Rafinerska,
though that would still have to be offered first to the majority
owner, Czech oil company Unipetrol, based on its
pre-emption right. MOL declined to disclose the price.
Unipetrol will analyse whether to acquire the minority stake
in its Ceska Rafinerska unit once it receives an offer from Eni,
Poland's PKN Orlen, the majority owner of Unipetrol,
said in an emailed statement to Reuters.
MOL said the acquisition was in line with its strategy to
increase retail market share significantly within the supply
radius of its core refineries.
MOL has four refineries in Hungary, Slovakia and Croatia,
and was operating over 1,700 filling stations in Central Eastern
Europe and the Balkans at the end of last year. Ceska Rafinerska
operates two Czech refineries.
GROWING MARKET SHARE
Tamas Pletser, a oil and gas sector analyst at Erste, said
MOL's expansion of its network of filling stations in the region
was positive, because its share would grow in the Czech, Slovak
and Romanian markets. The region's economies are recovering from
a slowdown in past years.
"It's basically positive but would be good to know the price
they paid for this," Pletser said.
MOL's shares rose 1.3 percent after the announcement and
outperformed the wider Budapest market but gave back most of
those gains to trade 0.3 percent higher at 12,775 forints at
MOL said its market share in the Czech Republic, where it
adds 125 filling stations in the deal, would grow above 10
percent, making it the second-largest motor fuel retailer in the
country in terms of network share.
It said the closing of the transaction with Eni was subject
to obtaining an anti-monopoly clearance.
Some analysts said the expansion of its retail network could
generate only limited gains for MOL.
Attila Vago, a senior analyst at Concorde, said that based
on the assumption that MOL achieves a rate of return of 10
percent per year on its newly acquired wholesale and retail
assets, the transaction could add 3-4 percent to MOL's annual
net income from 2015 onwards. MOL will publish first-quarter
flash results on Thursday.
Vago also said Unipetrol would probably buy Eni's minority
stake in Ceska Rafinerska to have full ownership of the
refineries, given that it had recently boosted its stake.
Western firms have been pulling out of the Czech refining
sector, which has suffered losses from low margins.
Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babis said last month that he
would seek an agreement with PKN that would secure the long-term
operation of the Czech refineries at Kralupy and Litvinov.
(Additional reporting by Marcin Goettig in Warsaw; Reporting by
Krisztina Than; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Jane Baird)