AmCham Elections Draw Record Number of Candidates

Government

AmCham reelected Dr. Farkas Bársony as its president, along with a new second vice president, and five members at large.

The new AmCham board of directors.

The December 13 event at the Budapest Marriott Hotel was the American Chamber of Commerce in Hungary’s 29th annual general assembly, and had been moved from its usual afternoon slot to the morning.

Bársony’s election as president was uncontested, perhaps an indication of how well received his tenure has been since he emerged victorious from a three-way race for the position in 2017, but he still had to get the approval of the meeting.

“Thank you for the trust you truly demonstrated in the last couple of years along the actions I made, we made as a board, we made as an organization,” he concluded. “Thanks for all the volunteer hours [you put in] in contributing to make our goals. Without your help, we would not be where we are today as the most prestigious organization of our business community and beyond.”

The other elections were far from one-horse races, however; there were four candidates for the second VP role, and 12 for the members at large. As the chamber’s CEO Írisz Lippai-Nagy said towards the end of the meeting, “In my time involved with AmCham, we have never had such a prestigious, big group of people as this, so many candidates.”

Kevin Murray, country head for Citibank Europe in Hungary and CEO of Citi Central Europe won a close fought contest for the second VP’s position. Banking is actually his second career: he is a decorated retired Lieutenant Colonel in the USAF. He has been with Citi for 32 years, during which time he has lived in six countries beyond the Unites States, and been on “ten boards, seven of which I have chaired”.

AmCham members voting at the annual assembly.

The victorious board members at large were: Ákos Burján (PwC Hungary, who also contested the second VP position); Ildikó Beck (Beck to Nature, LLC.); Dr. Dávid Kőhegyi (DLA Piper); Taira-Julia Lammi (ABB Kft.) and Zoltán Szabó (BT Regional Operations Center).

Burján, a tax partner, was reelected to the board. He told the assembly “I like living in Hungary, but I’d like to make it a better place, not just for us [business people], but these two little ones [his children] and your kids.” He particularly wants to see reform to the local business tax and the pharmaceutical tax.

Beck built a business in the United States out of a personal crisis (at one point she thought she would have 30 days to leave the country), importing coconut matresses from Hungary. “Nuts?” She asked. “No, coconuts!” She added: “Today I have a plan, I have my nuts and I have my running shoes, and I hope to put them to work for AmCham.”

Kőhegyi built his presentation around a silent movie of his attempts to win support through making a video with a cute puppy, until his wife told him to remind voters of all his years’ involvement with AmCham.

Lammi (“Yes, I have a monstrous first name; even the Finns can’t get it!”) listed her watchwords as “Technology”, “Diversity” and “Influencing”. She said she represented diversity, being Finnish, a woman, an engineer, a leader and a mother of two teenagers. “My grey hair would show if I were not so blonde.”

Szabó, general manager of the BT ROC, said he was passionate about improving the country’s future. He told the assembly he had a friend who said he was the best skipper in the world, because he could not swim and so would never leave the boat. “I am a father of four children and will never leave this country.”

AmCham By-laws Update

At the AmCham general assembly on December 13, the membership elected a supervisory board comprised of Dr. Andrea Jádi-Németh, who became the first chair, and David Young.

In what became an unusually spirited exchange, the assembly also discussed new by-laws proposals regarding: A) the establishment of a supervisory board as required by the law; B) changes to the rights of honorary members; and C) some other minor, largely technical adjustments.

The proposal, discussed as one package, did not reach the three-quarters supermajority that is required by the Civil Code for approval; consequently, AmCham is still operating under the by-laws adopted on December 7, 2016, which do not regulate or include a supervisory board, thus it will not be compliant with the Civil Code regulations.

In December 2017, the previous general assembly had accepted by-laws changes proposed by the board, which would have extended the rights of honorary members to vote or fulfill positions in the chamber; however, the Budapest Capital Regional Court rejected the proposals on the notion that the status of honorary members do not comply with applicable laws (see paragraph four section five of Act CLXXV./2011.).

For the 2018 assembly, the board had sought to revert the changes in order to be compliant with the law, therefore honorary members would not be able to vote or stand for board election at the general assembly. This proposition was challenged by those present and subsequently the by-laws modifications did not receive the three-quarters supermajority vote required.

The newly elected AmCham Board has decided to call another assembly in early 2019, to present a revised by-laws proposal and to approve the elected supervisory board. Consultations have begun to find a solution suitable for all impacted parties. Honorary members of the chamber have been invited to share their concerns and participate in the discussion.

The date of the new assembly will be announced later and the new by-laws proposals will be sent to the membership 30 days prior to the assembly. If you would like more information in the meantime, please contact the AmCham office.

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