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ZAGREB (Croatia), July 31 (SeeNews) - Croatia's government picked on Wednesday international investment firm Lazard as its new consultant in the planned purchase of the stake owned by Hungary's MOL in Croatain oil and gas company INA [ZSE:INA-R-A], finance minister Zdravko Maric said.
"We have now decided to go into this process with a new consultant, which is Lazard," Maric said in a video file posted on the website of public broadcaster HRT after a cabinet meeting.
Energy minister Tomislav Coric, who was also present at the meeting, said that the government will take a decision in the next few days to task him and Maric with signing a contract with the new consultant.
Coric also said that the government has capped the value of the consultancy services contract at 9.0 million euro ($10 million).
The consultant should be able to conduct due diligence on the potential deal within six months after the signing of the contract.
"In any case, we want to have this part of the process completed in the first quarter of 2020 and reach to the other side with our offer," Coric said.
In April 2018, the government selected a consortium comprising Morgan Stanley, Intesa Sanpaolo Group and Privredna Banka Zagreb [ZSE:PBZ] to advise it on the potential purchase of MOL's stake in INA, to be followed by a sale of INA's shares to a new strategic partner. The consortium had proposed to do the advisory work for 8.0 million euro.
However, no contract was signed with the consortium due to some disagreements on details of the document, Coric said earlier.
MOL is the biggest shareholder in INA with a 49.1% stake. The Croatian government owns 44.8%, with the remaining 6.1% held by institutional and private investors.
Prime minister Andrej Plenkovic said earlier that a government-appointed council in charge of negotiations with MOL had already defined the criteria for the purchase of the INA stake, while the advisor would be tasked with assessing INA's value and identifying possible strategic partners.