November 28, 2017 / 12:22 PM / 17 days ago

Hungary ready to return stake in oil company INA to Croatia -Orban

BUDAPEST, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Hungary is ready to sell back its stake in oil and gas company INA to Croatia, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Tuesday after talks on the issue that has soured bilateral relations.

Hungarian energy group MOL is currently the biggest shareholder in INA with slightly less than 50 percent, while the Croatian government holds almost 45 percent.

The two countries have been at odds in the last few years over management rights and investment policy. Croatia said last December that it wanted to buy back MOL’s shares in INA and in August it began seeking an adviser for the purchase.

Orban, speaking after a meeting with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, said Hungary was ready to settle the debate and was in favour of reaching an agreement on the matter as soon as possible, according to a summary of his remarks on the government website.

The Hungarian government owns 25.2 percent of MOL, which progressively acquired its stake in INA between 2003 and 2011.

Plenkovic said any sale agreement should set a realistic price for INA shares.

INA’s market capitalisation is around 33.08 billion Croatian kuna ($5.2 billion). But analysts have questioned the relevance of the figures, given the free float is small and said it remains unclear what price MOL would demand from Croatia. ($1 = 6.3428 kuna) (Reporting by Gergely Szakacs; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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