Russia asks for Hungary's co-operation in Surgutneftegaz-MOL dispute.

By bne IntelliNews November 29, 2010
Russian PM Vladimir Putin asked that Surgutneftegaz be allowed to exercise its ownership rights in Hungarian oil and gas firm MOL, reported quoting an Interfax report. The statement comes shortly after a Hungarian court of appeal confirmed a municipal court ruling in favour of MOL's refusal to register Russian energy giant Surgutneftegaz as a shareholder. The Russian company bought 21.2% of MOL from Austrian OMV for EUR 1.4bn in March 2009. The transaction, however, was viewed as a hostile takeover attempt by both the MOL management and the Hungarian government. Surgutneftgas was not registered as MOL shareholder and was not given access to the MOL shareholder meetings. In related news, Russian deputy PM Igor Sechin also asked for Hungary's co-operation in the MOL dispute, Reuters reported. Hungarian development minister Tamas Fellegi had said in relation to his recent visit in Russia that the state might consider becoming a shareholder in MOL and that the country is not comfortable with significant foreign participation in strategically important companies, such as MOL. Hungarian PM Viktor Orban plans to visit Moscow soon and discuss bilateral issues. The two countries had decided earlier in the month to end their co-operation in another major Hungarian firm, flag carrier Malev. The government took control of 95% of Malev in the beginning of 2010 in order to bail out the company after its previous majority owner, Russian consortium AirBridge, was unable to meet its obligations. Russia's state-owned Vnesheconombank currently holds the remaining 5%.

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