Hungary’s gas giant hostile toward apparent
OMV takeover bid
Hungarian Oil and Gas last week bought back over 6 million of its own shares as
it attempted to strengthen its position against an apparent takeover bid by
Austrian counterpart OMV.
announced last Monday it had spent about EUR 1 billion to increase its stake in
MOL from 10% to 18.6%. The Austrian company then said that it wished to invite
MOL to have “an open and constructive dialogue” on strategic cooperation.
OMV ‘not friendly’
Ferenc, MOL’s communications director, responded by telling the Financial Times
that the Hungarian firm would not accept the proposal. “To first buy a stake
and then ask for a discussion is not friendly,” he said. “We can see that they
simply want to eliminate competition.”
Tuesday bought 5 million of its own shares (a 4.6% stake) at HUF 29,974 each
under a buyback scheme announced on 22 June and then followed it up with the
purchase of another 237,000 last Wednesday. The company had already purchased
251,331 shares last Monday following the OMV announcement. It bought more
shares last Thursday, bringing its stake up to over 8%. While the company is
not allowed to own more than 10% of its shares under Hungarian law, it is
thought that MOL has a strong influence on around 30% of its shares.
gained 8.85% last Monday and 6.01% last Tuesday on the rumours to reach an
all-time high of HUF 30,200 (EUR 123) before dropping away again.
further thickened last Thursday when it was revealed that an anonymous party
had purchased just under six million shares, an approximately 6% stake.
According to capital markets magazine Magyar T?kepiac, Bank Austria
Creditanstant held the shares, but the real buyer was unknown.
that OMV could behind this stake,” Péter Tordai of KBC Securities told
financial website portfolio.hu.
said that MOL would likely have a good defence strategy and that the chances of
a merger were slim.
Ferenc Gyurcsány said that he would hold talks with MOL and do everything
possible to thwart the move. “I do not consider it to be a friendly move when a
state-owned company buys a stake in another company without prior notice with
the intention to gain control over it,” he said.
Minister János Veres said that the state would not buy shares in MOL but that
it was looking at draft legislation to protect strategic industries.
suggested that the government was looking at a law based on the work of the US
Committee on Foreign Investment (Cfius), which can block foreign takeovers.
Economy Minister János Kóka, speaking in the
it clear to Austrian politicians that it was not happy about OMV’s overtures.
Competition Authority (GVH) also joined in last Friday, with the head of its
industry and food division telling the daily Napi Gazdaság that he believed a
merger between the two firms would lead to an unacceptable level of market
media also suggested that Russian giant Gazprom is planning to buy a major
stake in OMV.