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EXPERT OPINION: Servicing smaller or larger customers of the energy market requires completely different skills, as energy trader MET Hungary has learnt from its own experience. But how does a new joint venture, established with Magyar Telekom, affect all this?

Márton Szépfy
Head of Sales, MET Hungary Ltd.

Servicing smaller or larger customers of the energy market requires completely different skills, as energy trader MET Hungary has learnt from its own experience. But how does a new joint venture, established with Magyar Telekom, affect all this?

MET, founded in 2007, is now going back to its origins. In the first years, the company’s focus was on large clients from energy-intensive industries and from the energy wholesale market. Later, its portfolio was gradually expanded, from a few dozens to a few hundreds of customers. This meant that the way of functioning had to be adapted as well, recruiting more key account managers for instance.

After the “wholesale era”, 2012-2013 was a genuine expansive period, driven by the retail segment. Although MET Hungary was already present on the public procurement and the SME (small and medium-sized enterprises) markets as well, these were not predominant parts of its activities.

Another change occurred with the acquisition of the retail electricity business (2014) and the retail gas business (2015) of GDF Suez. After dealing with natural gas for years, selling electricity was a new challenge for MET. This was not the only change as the number of clients increased significantly too. GDF also sold its 74,8 percent stake of Dunamenti Erőmű – the largest gas fired power plant in Hungary – to MET Group.

New developments did not stop there. Sales channels, so far based on the activities of key account managers, were complemented with two new teams based on former GDF employees: mass sales and public procurement. New colleagues and members of the MET sales department together constituted an even more effective team.

A new structure has been formed in which the whole retail portfolio is covered, from small enterprises through public procurement clients to big VIP partners. MET widens is present on the entire public procurement market, seizing every single opportunity. After natural gas, electricity trading has also become a MET specialty bringing outstanding results.

However, working with different clients requires completely different skills as well. The cooperation with large industrial clients is based on complex, tailor-made products and a highly professional approach, while in the case of SMEs the main goal is to reach as many partners as possible. Besides, smaller enterprises are keen to minimize risks, so they usually opt for fixed energy prices instead of more complex indexed formulas.

Reaching and servicing a great number of clients will be the main objective of E2 Hungary, a new joint venture of MET and Magyar Telekom that will start operations on the 1st of January 2016. The equally shared joint venture will provide natural gas and electricity services for business customers. The two parties bring their own sets of strengths that will complement each other – in the case of Magyar Telekom, the experience it has gained in customer servicing, matched by MET’s comprehensive knowledge of the wider energy industry.

As mass sales and public procurement activities will be transferred from MET to E2 Hungary, MET will continue to efficiently service its larger clients, in a way going back to its origins. At the same time, the energy trading company will look at further acquisition opportunities – not only in Hungary, but also in other countries of the region – since the acquisitions of recent years have produced favorable results.

At present, the Hungarian energy market is characterized by a strong consolidation process, with trading companies leaving and others entering the market. This consolidation helps maintain the intensity of competition, certainly a good news for customers.

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