OMV has announced the purchase of an 8.6% stake in MOL, increasing its total holding to 18.6%. The Austrian company is seeking a friendly deal and plans to talk with MOL on potential forms of cooperation. OMV is aiming for a merger with MOL. However, MOL sees no added value from such a merger and highlights regulatory concerns that could arise from cooperating with its major rival. We expect MOL to resist to OMV’s approach and believe the Hungarian company has many tools to collect more supporting votes, including the issue of new shares to a white knight. Our view is that MOL management will defend its position even if it is costly for minority shareholders and that comparative M&A deals in the oil sector do not support the high valuation premium that MOL currently enjoys over its closest peers. Hence, we are pessimistic on the outlook for further upside in the share price. With no changes in our oil macro assumptions, we maintain our fair value estimate of HUF 22,800, which implies 19.4% downside. We cut our recommendation to Sell.
MOL’s share price has rallied 17.2% in the past two trading days, due to market optimism that MOL is going to optimise its capital structure by buying its own shares from the market. OMV’s sudden move to increase its stake in MOL has also contributed to the jump in the share price by boosting takeover speculation. MOL is standing at a crossroads: simply buying shares on the market might not be enough to defend its position but other solutions are less elegant. A potential issue of new shares to a white knight seems to be a real possibility, in our view, despite the likely negative market reaction to such a move.