* Govt should “reanimate national industry”-PM’s spokesman
* Further steps needed to eliminate energy dependence
BUDAPEST, May 27 (Reuters) - Hungary’s government is eyeing further steps to boost the industrial sector and curb energy dependence after its purchase of a stake in oil and gas group MOL (MOLB.BU), the prime minister’s spokesman said on Friday.
The government said this week it would buy back a 21.2 percent stake in Hungary’s biggest listed company from Russia’s Surgut (SNGS.MM) for 1.88 billion euros ($2.7 billion), which it said would boost MOL’s stability and enhance the safety of the country’s energy supply. [ID:nLDE74N1FH]
Analysts said, however, the deal could herald a move to make the state an activist shareholder in the energy company, which had considered Surgut an unfriendly investor. [ID:nLDE74O0KC]
“We do not have a serious national industry so in order to reanimate the national industry we need to take such tough steps as for example reclaiming MOL,” Peter Szijjarto told private broadcaster HirTV in an interview.
The state will control a roughly 24-percent stake in MOL when the deal, subject to parliamentary approval, concludes by the end of August and it takes over shares and other assets from mandatory private pension funds scrapped earlier this year.
Szijjarto said the MOL purchase was a step forward in terms of the economy, national security and energy safety, and the government planned similar steps in the future to curb energy dependence.
“I very much hope that we will be able to make similar decisions to revive the national industry,” he said.
“In order to make Hungary strong again, we need to eliminate energy dependence, and we need to restore the national character of our strategic companies in parallel with their international operation,” Szijjarto said.
He did not elaborate on the possible further steps or the areas of industry involved.
Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi said on Thursday Hungary should strengthen the role of MOL in central Europe, which he said could give the country greater clout when negotiating energy prices with Russia, its main supplier. [ID:nLDE74P149]
Hungary needs to negotiate a new long-term contract with Russia for gas supplies from 2015.
($1 = 0.700 euro)
Reporting by Gergely Szakacs; Editing by Richard Chang