Zsolt Hernadi, CEO of Hungarian oil and gas player MOL, has told FT Deutschland, the sister paper of the Financial Times, that his company is receptive to the idea of partnering with large European energy firms, but has reiterated the fact that possible partners do not include Austrian utility OMV, which has recently made a takeover bid.
MOL recently staunchly rebuffed OMV’s acquisition attempts, calling the bid an unsolicited and unwelcome proposal in a press release publicizing the rejection. According to FT Deutschland, a merger with OMV remains out of the question.
If I had to look for a partner, I would ask Shell, BP or Gazprom, but not OMV, Mr Hernadi told the publication in an interview. But at the moment we don’t necessarily need a partner.
While OMV’s chief executive, Wolfgang Ruttensdorfer, has ruled out making a hostile takeover bid, Mr Hernadi told FT Deutschland that he believed OMV would in fact jump at any chance to make such a tender. According to the Financial Times, OMV has recently increased its holding in MOL to 18.9% and Mr Ruttensdorfer has said that the company will reserve the right to acquire further shares.
However, the publication revealed that MOL is shielded from this possibility, as shareholder voting rights are restricted to 10%. Mr Hernadi told the newspaper: Our share buyback is also functioning as a protection. At present, MOL holds 10% of its own share capital.
Mr Hernadi also told the publication that the company is interested in penetrating the Russian market: We are currently talking to several Russian companies about co-operation with refineries and in the gas business. He added that a co-operation with Gazprom would be particularly attractive, as it would expand the Russian monopoly’s supply chain.