BBJ's stories of the week, July 20-26
It’s Friday, another ending of a news cycle – and so, before BBJ gets out of here for Formula One weekend, we take one look back at the bigger stories we followed this week.
• Of course, BBJ.hu was no exception to the national and international trend of following the Sándor Csányi story, which turned out to be much ado about not exactly nothing, but far less than some financially apocalyptic would have had it.
After dumping over 2 million shares of stock in the OTP Bank, the CEO and government officials essentially spent much of the week doing damage control. By Thursday, Csányi dispensed with rumors about his reasoning behind the selloff (no panic or protest, but a premeditated move) and his health (in top form, reportedly, though this writer personally has a bit of a difficult time the man could run a marathon even if he wanted to).
The government even managed to unintentionally defuse the concern about OTP and other Hungary-based banks, thanks to an unnamed source. Reportedly, the Orbán administration will back off from their forex-based mortgage loan relief scheme – and upon hearing the news, players in international markets rewarded Hungary with two straight days of gains for the forint.
• The would-be newest entry into the commercial airline business out of Liszt Ferenc International Airport, Sólyom Hungarian Airways, also garnered a nice amount of media attention in Hungary in outlining their plans for (massive) expansion, including starting with 350 to 400 employees and growing to 700 in August; transporting 3 million passengers annually by next year; and upping that number to 8 million on a fleet of 50 aircraft by 2017. How much these plans are set back by the recent license application rejection by authorities remains to be seen.
• Hungarian business continue to look eastward for new opportunities, and two prime examples of the phenomenon were to be seen this week. On Monday, a group of eight businessmen arrived in Kazakhstan on their “On the Path of the Ancestors” tour: Participants are seeking to pay tribute to their heritage and hopefully make some deals for their SMEs. Thus far, a deal for cattle looks like the biggest winner.
In Moscow at midweek, the first shop in a planned chain of Hungarian grocery stores opened in Moscow. Paprika is the result of the Hungarian-Russian joint venture Paprika Kft and is reportedly the first-ever Hungarian specialty shop in Russia. Eleven more Paprika outlets are planned.
• And that Formula One thing. While between 150,000 to 200,000 spectators are expected to be watching at least some part of the festivities at the Hungaroring in Mogyoród, the biggest story may be taking place in relative exclusion: namely, the signing of an extension to keep the Hungarian Grand Prix running through 2020. Good news for fans of Hungary’s top world-class sporting event, then.
• Finally, as we close out the week, a chapter has ended in Hungary as the International Monetary Fund office closed its doors in Budapest. The cover story of our print edition takes a look at the often rocky relationship between the Fund and the Hungarian government.
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