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Mátrai Erőmű books after-tax loss but pre-tax profit in 2018

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Mátrai Erőmű, which operates Hungaryʼs second biggest power plant, booked a HUF 817 million loss last year because of a tax rebate it paid back after the sale of a 16 MW solar park, Chairman József  Valaska said in Wednesdayʼs issue of daily paper Magyar Nemzet.    Mátrai had pre-tax profit of HUF 795 mln in 2018.

Valaska told the paper that restructuring last year had "put the company on a sustainable business path," and noted that the company had closed 2017 with a loss of HUF 9.1 billion.

Last spring, listed holding company Opus Global bought out its Czech partner in Mátrai Erőmű, giving it a controlling stake. Lőrinc Mészáros, the oligarch close to the government who controls Opus Global, earlier said the Czech company had wanted to undertake a "conventional" reorganization of the power generator, which would have meant making layoffs or shutting down blocks. He argued at the time that nobody on Mátraiʼs payroll should have to pay for poor business decisions taken by the plantʼs management in 2017.

Magyar Nemzet reported on Wednesday that some 7.8 million tonnes of lignite were extracted from Mátrai Erőműʼs mines last year. Capital expenditures came to HUF 7.6 bln, it added.

Because the power plantʼs management expects improved market conditions and balanced operation this year, they plan to pay a HUF 11.2 bln dividend from profit reserves, the report noted.

In a disclosure posted on the website of the Budapest Stock Exchange (BÉT) before the start of trading on Wednesday, Opus Global said payment of the dividend would be made possible by the sale of the 16 MW solar park, the termination of emissions quotas saved through reduced output, and the sale of recultivated land at one of Mátrai Erőműʼs mines.

The purpose of the dividend is "to consolidate the debt of the owner, creating the scope for management to raise capital for further development, in order to enable the implementation of the development strategy [adopted by a shareholdersʼ meeting on September 19, 2018] - namely investments based on renewable energy production and energy storage - in an orderly economic environment," Opus said.

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