Prague - Russian oil company Lukoil has announced it is leaving the Czech market, where it operates a chain of 44 gas stations, in response to the sanctions imposed by the EU on Russia last week.
Lukoil will sell its gas station chain in the Czech Republic to Hungarian company MOL, which also agreed in May to buy the Czech Republic's Agip gas station chain from ENI.
Once the two transactions are completed, MOL will own 318 gas stations in the Czech Republic, becoming the country's second biggest gas station operator after Benzina, which runs 340 gas stations in the country.
“This acquisition is an important step to further strengthen our presence in the Czech market and achieve the strategic objective of becoming a leading player in the Central and Eastern European region,” said MOL senior manager Lars Hoglund.
Lukoil's Eastern European sell-off
Lukoil has also said that it will sell 75 gas stations in Hungary and 19 in Slovakia to Hungarian company Norm Benzinkut. Last week, the Russian company announced it would sell 240 gas stations and six fuel storage facilities in Ukraine to Austrian company AMIC Energy Management.
Lukoil CEO Vagit Alekperov said last week that his company would sell more assets in Eastern Europe in order to focus on projects in Russia.
Lukoil is not among the direct targets of the Western sanctions, but Alekperov says that the company has to change its plans anyway.
"We are looking into different options. The fact that the access to financing would be hampered would [lead] to cuts in our costs and investment programs," Alekperov was quoted as saying by Reuters. Lukoil originally planned to invest USD 20 billion this year.
Hungary's MOL is a Budapest-based oil and gas company that operates a network of more than 1,700 gas stations in 11 countries across Central and Eastern Europe. It is active in over 40 countries and employs almost 29,000 people all over the world. The company also runs four refineries and two petrochemical plants in Hungary, Slovakia and Croatia.
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