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Lego to double size of Hungarian plant, raise headcount 

Jesper Hassellund Mikkelsen, Lego’s plant manager in Nyíregyháza, at a January 15 press conference in which the Danish toymaker announced that it will invest HUF 30 billion at its Hungarian plant. The investment would more than double the size of the factory, news agency MTI reported. Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said the investment is being supported with a grant of HUF 4.4 bln from the government. Hassellund Mikkelsen said headcount at the plant is likely to rise by 1,600 as a result of the investment. The plant will increase from 120,000 sqm to 250,000 sqm, more than 700 machines will be installed, and packaging capacity will also be expanded, MTI reported. Mikkelsen said the company believes in Hungary and that Nyíregyháza is a good city for such expansion and development, as European markets are near, the workforce needs of the company are being met and the authorities are helpful, according to MTI. (Photo: MTI/Tibor Illyés)

OTP Bank raises capital of Ukrainian unit

OTP Bank said on January 25 that it had raised the registered capital of its Ukrainian unit to UAH 6.186 billion, about €228 million or HUF 72.1 bln, Hungarian news agency MTI reported. The registered capital increased from UAH 3.668 bln in May 2015, OTP told MTI. The Ukrainian company court had registered the capital increase, the bank said. OTP Bank Ukraine had negative shareholders’ equity of HUF 44.5 bln at the end of September 2015, OTP Bank’s unaudited report showed. It registered after-tax losses of HUF 27.1 bln in the first nine months of last year.

NNG, Renault ink another partnership

French car manufacturer Renault and Hungarian navigation software developer NNG signed a partnership in which the Hungarian company will provide support for some of the automaker’s premium models through its iGo Navigation GPS software, NNG announced on January 25. Renault models using the software include Espace, Kadjar, the new Megan and Talisman. The entirely Android-based software gives a priority to monitoring the safety of the driver, for example through its OSP sensor, which lets drivers know if they are above the speed limit. Cars fitted with the software have been made available to the European market and feedback reveals that users are satisfied, the company said. NNG’s cooperation with Renault began in 2011, when the navigation company started installing its software in Dacia models produced by Renault in Romania.

BATM acquires Green Lab Hungary

Israel-based technology firm BATM Advanced Communications Ltd. announced that it would acquire all of the share capital of Green Lab Hungary Engineering Ltd., a Hungarian firm that develops and distributes analytical instruments, for $3.8 million to be paid in installments over three years, online portal Jewish Business News reported on January 25. The move signals BATM’s expansion in Hungary, where it currently owns sterilization units, the daily reported. According to the news portal, the company hopes the acquisition will strengthen its product networks and foster growth at its local ECO Unit, which focuses on agri-business applications, as well as on the Romanian market. Green Lab’s Founder and CEO Judit Jeney will be joining the management team at BATM following the acquisition.

Wallis Group buys Hungarian Praktiker stores

The Hungarian units of hardware store chain Praktiker were taken over by Wallis Group on January 18, following the insolvency of the German parent in 2013; however, the move has not affected the operation of the Hungarian stores, according to reports. According to a press release issued on January 22, the buyers agreed to operate Praktiker as a joint company, in which Wallis Group will become the majority owner. This stage of the transaction is still subject to approval from Hungary’s Competition Office (GVH), and the parties anticipate a green light in the first quarter of the year, according to reports. The Hungarian office of Dentons advised on the transaction. “We are very proud to have had the opportunity to support Wallis Group in this landmark transaction,” commented Dentons Partner Andreas Köhler, legacy co-head of the firm’s global German practice. The transaction secured approximately 1,100 jobs in 19 Hungarian Praktiker stores, Köhler added.

KPMG Hungarian unit’s net revenue up 6% in 2015

Consultancy firm KPMGʼs Hungarian unit had HUF 16.96 billion total net revenue in 2015 according to IFRS standards, up more than 6% compared to 2014, KPMG said on January 22. KPMG Hungaria CEO Robert Stollinger expects revenue to expand in the future, assisted by innovative solutions and growth in the company’s service portfolio. “We are receiving more important commissions from the infrastructural and the government sector. Demand is also up from companies switching to IFRS standards or for services helping private company development,” said Stollinger, adding that KPMGʼs administrative office in Budapest provides services to multinational companies in 35 countries. KPMG has more than 800 employees in Hungary.

IBM acquires UStream

U.S.-based IBM on January 21 announced the acquisition of Hungarian-founded video streaming service UStream, Inc., according to a press statement issued by the American company. Shown are the offices of the local company, near the top of the Párizsi Nagyáruház on Andrássy út. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, although Fortune said the acquisition was expected to be valued at approximately ‘$130 million in cash, plus possible earn-outs and employee retention packages’. IBM said the acquisition would extend the IBM Cloud platform to help enterprise clients unlock the value of video, a rapidly evolving digital media and data asset. ‘Video has become a first-class data type in business that requires accelerated performance and powerful analytics that allows clients to extract meaningful insights,’ said Robert LeBlanc, senior vice president, IBM Cloud. ‘Aligning our expansive video and cloud innovations into an integrated unit will create opportunities for clients to take advantage of this medium in the most strategic way possible,’ he added. ‘Video is the most powerful and emotional medium,’ said Brad Hunstable, CEO of Ustream, commenting on the acquisition. ‘Increasingly it is becoming the favored form of communication, not just for entertainment, but also for business. We’ve built a video platform that is easy-to-use, yet incredibly scalable, secure and powerful and it is these qualities that made us an ideal addition to IBM’s portfolio.’ (Photo: MTI/János Marjai)

Richter buys out Chinese partner

Medicine manufacturer Gedeon Richter acquired Chinese Rxmidas Pharmaceuticals Holdings Ltd.’s 50% stake in Gedeon Richter Rxmidas Joint Venture Co. Ltd., becoming the sole owner of the Chinese joint venture, according to a press release issued on January 22. The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Hungary’s Richter set up the firm with an initial 50% share of equity in December 2010. “Subsequent to the present acquisition, Richter now holds 100% of Gedeon Richter Rxmidas Joint Venture Co. Ltd., consequently it will be in full charge of its contraceptive and OTC business in China”, the announcement noted. Richter considers the transaction an important step in underlining the company’s commitment to expanding its business operations in China, which the company dubbed one of the fastest growing pharmaceutical markets, the announcement added.

Audi to produce Q3 model in Hungary

German car manufacturer Audi is planning to relocate production of its Q3 compact crossover SUV model to its Hungarian plant in Győr, from Martorell, Spain, where the model is currently being produced, the company announced on January 20. The company attributed the decision to changes in its global production network, news agency MTI reported, however, the timeframe for the launch of Audi Q3 production has not yet been revealed. As the Audi plant in Brussels prepares for the launch of the first fully electric SUV in 2018, Audi A1 model production is being relocated from Brussels to Martorell, MTI said. Audi Hungaria Motor managing director Peter Kössler said the decision was the latest confirmation of Audi Hungariaʼs competence and efficiency, as well as Hungary’s competitiveness as a production base, MTI said. The German manufacturer turns out TT Coupe models, TT Roadsters, Audi A3 Limousines and Audi A3 Cabriolets in Győr, the news agency noted.

Uber has 80,000 users in Budapest

Roughly 80,000 people use Uber in Budapest, eight times more than a year ago, the San Francisco-based ridesharing service told news agency MTI on January 14. Most Uber passengers are local residents, but a large number of foreigners also use the service. Uber celebrated the first anniversary of its operations in Budapest on November 12 of last year but its short presence in the capital has not been without protests from local taxi drivers and challenging legislation imposed by the Hungarian government. Uber, however, has continued to serve local clients. There were approximately 1,200 Uber drivers in Budapest at the end of last year, up from 200 at the start of the year. The average waiting time for an Uber car was reduced from about seven minutes to four minutes and 40 seconds during the period.

Magyarmet winds up HUF 592 mln investment

Magyarmet Finomöntöde has completed a HUF 592 million technology upgrade and capacity expansion at its base in Bicske, near Budapest, Hungarian news agency MTI reported on January 22. Magyarmet won a HUF 296 mln European Union and state grant for the investment, which has created 35 jobs. Headcount at the company currently averages 215. Magyarmet has also added BMW to its business partners as a result of the technology developments. The company had net revenue of HUF 3.5 billion last year. About HUF 2.5 bln was derived from exports.

PwC Hungary welcomes new executive director

Advisory group PwC Hungary has appointed Dr. Csaba Polacsek executive director, taking effect on January 11, after he joined the firm at the beginning of the month, according to a press statement issued by the company on January 19. Polacsek is expected to focus on expanding PwC Hungary’s financial and transaction advisory services, using his experience in the financial services industries, the statement noted. Having spent approximately 20 years in the financial services and banking sectors, Polacsek worked for more than five years in the public sector as deputy CEO of National Asset Management Inc. and then as Deputy State Secretary in charge of national financial services and postal matters in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Wabererʼs postpones decision on IPO

The shareholders of road haulage company Wabererʼs have decided to postpone a decision on an initial public offering (IPO), the company said on January 18. Wabererʼs listed its shares on the Budapest Stock Exchange last October, but in November its board proposed cancelling the IPO in light of current market conditions. At an extraordinary general meeting on January 14, shareholders made the decision to hold off on the IPO in light of the board’s withdrawal of a proposal to transform the company back to a private company limited by shares (Zrt.) from a public company limited by shares (Nyrt.). The Budapest Stock Exchange said late in December that it would extend the deadline for Wabererʼs shares to start trading on the bourse to June 30, 2016, at the issuer’s request.

Casino Sopron renews concession for ten years

After renewing its expired concession contract for an additional ten years, Casino Sopron reopened for business on January 15, following a two-week closure, managing director Erik Holcsek told news agency MTI. The casino signed the contract with Hungary’s National Economy Ministry. Casino Sopron, the country’s oldest casino, had approximately 120,000 visitors last year, with the number of Hungarian guests rising recently, to reach approximately 40% of total visitors, the managing director said. The casino saw an after-tax profit of HUF 688 million on revenue of HUF 2.8 billion in 2014, MTI reported, adding that it foresees a year-on-year revenue increase in 2015.