Privatization of Croatian INA may enable MOL to acquire the company

The opposition Most party leader, Bozo Petrov, expressed concerns that the government-sponsored draft law on the privatization of the oil and gas group INA, which has been put to public consideration, would actually clear the way for Hungarian oil company MOL to completely take over the biggest Croatian company. MOL holds 49.08% in INA and the Croatian government – 44.84%. Petrov claimed that the proposed bill aimed to repeal the provision that has so far prevented MOL from implementing its plan to have full control over INA and dismantle it, and will thus give MOL an alibi to completely take over INA and eventually dismantle the company.

Recall that in July the EC decided to put on hold the referral of Croatia to the Court of Justice of the EU over INA privatization law over it being non-compliant with the EU on the free movement of capital and the freedom of establishment because the government has in the meantime published a new draft bill that could remove the reasons for the proceedings. The EC found the original law disputable because it gave the state special powers in the company, including the right to veto its decisions regarding the sale of shares or property whose value exceeds a certain amount. Also, under the original law, the state can oppose important decisions of the INA management, such as decisions concerning the change of the company’s line of business, awarding of licences and the change of its main office’s address.

Commenting on Petrov claims, energy minister Tomislav Coric said his statement indicated that Most is completely unfamiliar with the subject. The minister underlined that mechanisms were agreed with the EC to keep in force certain restrictions to share management that were in line with the acquis and that will be included in the new law. He underlined that as agreed with the EC, the bill was aimed to comply with the respective EU acquis while protecting Croatia’s national interests in energy security and stability.

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