Regulator suspends iffy Slovnaft share trade

SLOVAKIA'S Financial Markets Office (ÚFT) has suspended a March trade in shares of the Slovnaft refinery on the Bratislava stock exchange (BCPB) for 30 days, as the dispute between Slovnaft's Hungarian parent and a Slovak financial house heats up.

The original transaction, which saw 202,000 shares in Slovnaft change hands for Sk1,541 (€37.59) a piece, was attacked by the refinery's majority shareholder, Hungarian oil company MOL, as a speculative attempt to raise the share price ahead of a MOL takeover bid.

Under Slovak law, a majority shareholder controlling more than 66 percent of a company is required to announce a public takeover bid for remaining shares. The value of the bid cannot be lower than the average price per share over the six-month period before the majority stake was acquired.

After MOL acquired a 31.6 percent stake in Slovnaft on March 27, increasing its holding in the company to 70 percent, the company offered a takeover bid of Sk1,200 (€29.29) per share. However, the disputed March 20 trade, at Sk1,541 (€37.59) per share, raised the six-month average from Sk1,100 (€26.85) to Sk1,380 (€33.69) per share.

According to MOL, the J&T financial house, which owns 15 percent of Slovnaft, is behind the March trade, which was set up solely to increase the price MOL was required to offer for their stake.

Officials from J&T deny wrongdoing, and claim the real value of Slovnaft stock is Sk2,177 (€53.14) per share. The firm has also filed suit to prevent the cancellation of the March 20 trade; a decision is due by May 8.

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