The United States ambassador to Croatia Robert Kohorst said on February 12, 2018, that the sale of oil & gas company INA to a Russian company would be a mistake, Croatian media reported.
The U.S. sees Russia as a disturbing factor in the region and Croatia should do business with a partner interested in seeing the country become a success, news agency Hina quoted Kohorst as telling reporters. «We want Croatia to have a partner that is willing to offer support,» Kohorst noted.
The comment of the U.S. envoy was made in response to the stated intention of Russian Rosneft to acquire a stake in INA. The head of Rosneft, Igor Sechin, revealed last year that the company is considering entering INA as it pursues investments in the region. Kohorst, however, thinks this would be a poor move.
In January, Croatia said it has received 7 applications under its call for financial consultants on the possible purchase of the stake in INA currently held by Hungary's MOL.
Croatia's prime minister, Andrej Plenkovic, earlier announced a government-appointed council in charge of negotiations with MOL has already defined the criteria for the purchase of MOL's stake in INA, while the advisor will be tasked with assessing INA's value and identifying possible strategic partners. «We recommend that Croatia should hire the best consultants and to reach a good commercial agreement», Kohorst told Hina.
On Christmas Eve 2016, Plenkovic announced the government's decision to buy MOL's stake in INA.
MOL is the biggest shareholder in INA with a 49.08% stake. The Croatian government owns 44.84%, with the remaining 6.08% is held by institutional and private investors.
Prior to this decision, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) dismissed Croatia's claims of bribery and alleged breaches of a shareholders agreement for INA by MOL. The lawsuit was filed by Croatia in 2014 with the aim to cancel a 2009 deal which saw MOL gain managerial rights at INA without owning a majority stake.