OMV 2010 earnings beyond €2bn, says CEO

OMV will earn more than two billion Euros this year, according to firm chief Wolfgang Ruttenstorfer.Asked whether the oil and gas company’s earnings before interest and taxes (Ebit) will take the two-billion-Euro hurdle this year, Ruttenstorfer said today (Thurs) that there was “no doubt” about it. The internationally operating firm’s Ebit in the first three quarters of 2010 was 1.75 billion Euros, up by a third year on year. Its turnover soared by 27 per cent to 16.69 billion Euros.Ruttenstorfer, who has headed the Vienna-based company since 2002, said OMV was “on track” despite the currently low value of its stocks. The value of the firm’s shares decreased by around nine per cent since the beginning of this year.”You have to ask analysts why that is. I think the company is on track and doing well,” he said.Ruttenstorfer is in hot water since prosecutors announced last month he faces a trial over possible insider trading next year.The former Social Democratic (SPÖ) state secretary bought OMV stakes worth 632,000 Euros in March 2009. Ruttenstorfer said in an interview with magazine profil at the time that OMV would not sell its interest in Hungarian competitor MOL “in the foreseeable future” and planned to keep it at least until the end of the year.However the company sold the 21.1 per cent stake to Russian’s Surgutneftegas a few days after his statement. The value of OMV stocks soared strongly as a consequence. Ruttenstorfer has vehemently denied any wrongdoing. He claimed the deal came unexpected to him and the whole board.The OMV head has recently received support from a group of high-profile businessmen including Strabag CEO Hans Peter Haselsteiner. The 27-member committee criticised prosecutors’ decision to press insider knowledge charges in an open letter published in several newspapers last week. The Federal Association of Judges and State Prosecutors reacted by stressing it would not let itself be influenced by a “media campaign”.OMV supervisory board chief Norbert Zimmermann said he would take the Austrian Financial Market Supervisor FMA to court were he head of OMV. “The accusations against Ruttenstorfer are baseless,” he claimed, stressing that the decision to investigate Ruttenstorfer did not only harm the reputation of the OMV head but the image of the whole company.Ruttenstorfer still holds the OMV shares he controversially acquired last year.Some business newspapers suggested authorities have double standards since they did not object the purchase and sale of Erste Bank stocks by the bank’s chief Andreas Treichl. The businessmen raked in around 654,000 in the deal, according to reports.Vienna Insurance Group (VIG) boss Günter Geyer suggested the acquisition of stocks of a firm should become prohibited to its own board members. Yet such purchases are widely regarded as an essential signal from decision-makers to shareholders of how much trust they are putting into a firm’s performance.