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Porcelain war: Zsolnay account frozen, Ledina Kerámia suspended

Food

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In the latest chapter of Hungarian porcelain maker Zsolnay’s liquidation process, minority owner Pécs municipal council has placed a lien on Zsolnayʼs bank account, while the registration of Ledina Kerámia, a firm established by the minority owner to take over operations, was temporarily suspended on Zsolnayʼs request, according to reports.

Iván Szabó, counsel for the local government, which holds a 19% stake in Zsolnay, said that the bank account was frozen because the company failed to pay HUF 95 million in local business taxes by the deadline yesterday, MTI reported today citing local online daily pecsiujsag.hu. 

According to the daily, a lender, which has not been named, placed another lien on Zsolnayʼs account for HUF 120 mln in overdue credit.

Zsolnay Chairman Petra Cséplő told MTI late yesterday that Zsolnay paid the HUF 96 million in local business tax it owed by the deadline on Monday. She added that the company transferred the amount and has the documents to prove the transaction; it was not taken out because of a lien.

Ledina Kerámia registration suspended 

The registration of Ledina Kerámia, a company the Pécs Council established to take over operations from Zsolnay once it was liquidated, was suspended by the Kaposvár court for 60 days, after Zsolnay launched a legal procedure against its registration, according to MTI.

At the beginning of June the staff of 130 resigned from Zsolnay en masse to be reinstated at Ledina Kerámia. Government-friendly daily Magyar Idők reported at the end of June that staff left the company due to “psychological pressure and spoilt morale”.

Ledina Kerámia is permitted to pay its staff during the suspension period, but it may not undertake “business activities requiring a permit”, Attila Vadócz, a spokesman for the court, told MTI .

Hungarian state-owned liquidator Nemzeti Reorganizácios Nonprofit placed Hungarian porcelain maker Zsolnay under custodial oversight, and a custodian was referred to the company in Pécs on June 21.

Cabinet Chief János Lázár said at the beginning of June that the Hungarian government “backs the efforts by the municipal council of Pécs”. He added that the Hungarian government has taken the side of the local council of Pécs in the “Zsolnay matter”, adding that the “apparent owner” of Zsolnay cannot count on further support from state-owned MFB or the government.

The war for the ownership of Zsolnay began in mid-April, when majority-owner Bachar Najari, a Syrian-born businessman, aired concerns of what he called a “hostile takeover”. By mid-June Najari said his company had “come under attack by a group lobbying to take over business”.

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