The Hungarian government on Thursday said it would sell its remaining 11.7 percent stake in oil and gas company MOL Rt., letting MOL itself purchase most of the package. MOL signed an option agreement covering shares representing 10 percent of its registered capital, which it can exercise in two steps.
The deal includes an option for MOL to buy a stake of up to 3 percent between Dec. 10 and Dec. 30, and, depending on how much it buys in that period, a stake of 7-10 percent between May 1 and Oct. 27, 2006. The other 1.7 percent group of shares, and any shares remaining from those offered to MOL, will be sold at an unspecified time to small investors, the government said in a statement.
The shares' purchase price by MOL will be the weighted average price of its shares on the Budapest Stock Exchange 90 days prior either to the signing or to the exercise of the option agreement, whichever is higher. The agreement on the sale was signed Thursday by MOL executives and representatives of APV Rt., the state privatization and asset management company and will enter into force later this month, after approval by the APV's board of directors.
Government spokesman Andras Batiz told reporters that the state's MOL stake was not being sold to large foreign investors in order to "safeguard the Hungarian company's national nature and independence." Batiz said that until the end of 2015 MOL will be sell the shares bought from the state to strategic investors only with government approval, although the company would be allowed to use them in a share swap or other deal aimed at expanding its operations outside Hungary.
MOL shares were trading at 20,150 forints (US$ 93.35, Ђ79.75) on Thursday on the Budapest Stock Exchange, with a 52-week high of 24,750 forints (US$114.74, Ђ97.95). At the shares' current market price, the state's 11.7 percent stake is worth around 257 billion forints (US$1.2 billion, Ђ1 billion), reports the AP. N.U.