The Budapest office of Morgan Stanley refurbished and donated 817 computers to Hungarian educational institutions, children’s hospitals and aid organizations with the help of almost 100 employees performing 400 hours of volunteer work, according to an announcement released on August 26. The 36 organizations receiving the donations include Bátor Tábor, Heim Pál Children’s Hospital, Gézengúz Foundation and Ferencvárosi Komplex Nursery School and Elementary School. Educational institutions were given 502 computers, children’s hospitals received 150, while aid organizations were given 165 computers. “The practice of a corporation donating computers is not a novelty, however, the practice of corporate employees doing so in the framework of social work volunteering is indeed a novelty,” Norbert Fogarasi, Managing Director at Morgan Stanley’s Budapest office, said. The leader added that as data security is very important to the company, the computers had been reformatted and cleared of all data as per stringent security regulations.
India-based Apollo Tyres closed a €300 million financing deal for a plant it is currently building in Hungary, local news portal profit.ndtv.com reported on August 26. The company was supported and provided debt financing by an international consortium of banks including ABN Amro, Hungarian Export-Import Bank, Raiffeisen Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and UniCredit Bank Hungary, the portal noted. Constructions for the plant began earlier this year with a total investment of €475 mln. The company expects to roll out the first product from the plant in the first half of 2017, the portal reported. According to the Indian portal, the plant will have a capacity to produce 5.5 million passenger car and light truck tires and 6,75,000 heavy commercial vehicle (HCV) tires annually. “This facility will complement Apollo Tyresʼ existing facility in the Netherlands, bringing the whole range of Apollo and Vredestein branded tires to the European market,” the portal cited the company saying.
An explosion on the morning of August 27 at Gedeon Richter’s Hungarian plant in the Kőbánya area of Budapest left one person seriously injured according to reports. Máté Kisdi, the spokesperson of Budapest’s disaster management office, reportedly said that workers in the plant were trying to cut apart an empty container when it exploded and injured one person seriously. After the explosion, methanol was found in the container, and firefighters began cooling the location with water sprays, after closing off a 100-meter perimeter around the site of the blast, origo.hu online news portal said. Disaster management teams conducted measurements in the area, but reportedly found no signs of chemical threat. Richter reportedly said it is not allowed to provide any information about the explosion while the authorities are still investigating the issue, origo.hu said.
French-owned sporting goods retailer Decathlon saw its sales increase by a year-on-year 17% in the January-July period, Gábor Posfai, the managing director of the stores’ operator Tízpróba Magyarország, said at a press conference on August 31. The manager noted that the company’s market share stands at more than 30%, higher than in any other country where Decathlon operates. Last year, Decathlon’s sales in Hungary reached HUF 28.5 billion. Decathlon is scheduled to open its 17th store in Hungary, in Szolnok, central Hungary, at the end of October.
The Hungarian unit of global luggage manufacturer Samsonite has inaugurated a HUF 2.4 billion expansion in Szekszárd, southwestern Hungary, national news agency MTI reported on August 24. The investment was supported with a European Union grant of HUF 717 million. Samsonite Hungária Bőrönd has built a 4,400 sqm production hall and installed new technology, increasing capacity by 28% and creating 50 new jobs. Plant manager József Pinczel said the plant currently produces 700 suitcases a day using the new technology; output will be increased to 900 units a day in a few months. The plant turns out about 700,000 suitcases a year. Samsonite Hungária had revenue of HUF 16.4 bln in 2014 and projects similar revenue in 2015. Headcount is expected to grow from the current 540 as output increases, Pinczel added. The company said the development is part of a €17 mln six-year program, supported with €5 mln in European Union funding.
Swedish white goods company Electrolux has already begun production in Hungary of an annual 70,000 built-in refrigerators, the capacity of which was moved from Italy, Electrolux Lehel CEO Sándor Gönczy told Hungarian news agency MTI on August 31, confirming earlier reports in the Italian press. Electroluxʼs bases in the Hungarian cities of Jászberény and Nyíregyháza are the company’s largest refrigerator plants in Europe, Gönczy said. The decision to move production was announced by the company two years earlier, he added.
Romanian insurer Astra, which also has a subsidiary in Hungary, has gone insolvent and its license has been withdrawn by Romania’s financial market watchdog Autoritatea de Supraveghere Financiară (ASF), the National Bank of Hungary (MNB) reported on August 27. According to the central bank’s report, Hungarian clients of Astra are eligible for compensation by Romania’s state insurance guarantee fund up to the equivalent of €100,000. ASF appointed an oversight commissioner to the insurer last year, MNB reported. Astra saw revenues from premiums of HUF 2.8 billion in the first half, and a market share of 0.62%, according to data compiled by the Hungarian Insurers Association (MABISZ), Hungarian news agency MTI reported.
The European Commission reported on August 20 that it had approved the establishment of a joint venture by Magyar Telekom, the subsidiary of telco giant Deutsche Telekom, and MET Holding to supply retail gas and electricity. “The Commission found that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns, because the joint venture will face strong competition from companies currently active in the Hungarian energy markets as well as from new players, expected to enter the market in the near future,” the statement published on the EC’s website says. MTel announced in May that it would exit the retail gas market from July 31, 2015, Hungarian news agency MTI reported. Hungarian oil and gas company MOL owns 40% of energy trader MET Holding, the news agency added, citing the company’s website.
David Hurst has been appointed director at PwC Hungary, responsible for Business Recovery Services, an announcement released on August 26 reports. He joined the Hungarian branch from PwC UK, after more than 16 years of experience advising on all aspects of financial and operational restructuring, business reviews, insolvency, and transactions involving distressed assets and non-performing loans, according to the announcement. Hurst brings significant international experience working with public sector clients, corporates, lenders and investors, most recently on assignments across Central and Southern Eastern Europe, the announcement added.
Regina Kuzmina was appointed regional manager for Unilever Hungary and the Adria region as of August 1, while becoming a member of CEE management board at the same time, an announcement on August 26 reveals. She started at Unilever responsible for the Russia-Ukraine-Belarus region in 1997, and has been working in various positions for the last 18 years, such as marketing and media communications. For the past four years she was the sales manager of the aforementioned region. “It is an honor for me that I can lead an excellent team,” the new manager said. “The business successes of the last couple of years speak for themselves: excellent professionalism, tendentiousness, strong commitment, speed and entrepreneurial attitude characterizes my new, victorious team,” the professional added. She noted that it is not her aim to “improve the business, but to make it more successful”.
Erste Bank is planning to buy the Hungarian retail business of Citibank, while Citibank will continue to focus on corporate and institutional clients, the two banks jointly announced on September 2, according to Hungarian news agency MTI. Citibank is expected to give over its retail deposit, investment, personal loans, credit card and micro-enterprise financing (CitiBusiness) segments, the news agency reported, adding that Citibank Europe plc. reached an agreement with Erste Bank Hungary as well as its subsidiary Erste Befektetési Zrt. According to the announcement the deal is not expected to be wound up before the fourth quarter of next year, and is still pending regulatory approval, which could be received around the end of 2015. It is unclear how many Citibank customers Erste is able to retain but Erste will have to make efforts to be able to offer the same service levels and products as Citibank did, a source from the banking sector told the Budapest Business Journal. The acquisition of the retail arm of Citibank in Hungary comes amid a consolidation process triggered by the government’s mandate to increase the share of Hungarian banks and decrease the number of commercial and retail banks in the country. Private banking, card operations and wealth management are considered some of the activities that remained lucrative after the FX loan conversion and bank levy imposed on the sector and Citibank has built a strong position in these areas since they entered the Hungarian market. Citibank’s private banking clients also suffered substantial losses on Lehman Brothers bonds in 2007, which Citibank had marketed to its premium clients prior to Lehman Brothers becoming insolvent. Citibank, however, had maintained its focus in Hungary on retail and wealth management and private banking clients, the source noted.
Hungarian petrochemicals company Tiszai Vegyi Kombinát (TVK), 100% owned by Hungarian oil and gas company MOL, has changed its name to MOL Petrolkémia, under which it will now operate, MOL reported on its website on August 28. It was reported in March that MOL had announced its 100% acquisition of Tiszai Vegyi Kombinát, Hungarian news agency MTI said. MOL is building a HUF 35 bln butadiene plant in Tiszaújváros, eastern Hungary, where TVK is located, MTI added.