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Energy authority pulls Emfesz license

Hungary's energy office MEH has revoked the trading license of troubled natural gas distributor Emfesz, the authority said in a statement posted on its website.

MEH suspended Emfesz's licence for 90 days from January 13, 2011 because of the company's liabilities to suppliers. MEH said it withdrew the license because Emfesz failed to fulfill conditions necessary to restart operations by the 60th day of the suspension.

Emfesz may ask a court to review the decision to withdraw its license.

The resolution to withdraw Emfesz's license was dated April 1, one day after the Municipal Court of Budapest annulled an earlier sale of the company.

Emfesz managing director István Góczi, under an authorization given him earlier, sold Emfesz to RosGas, a Russian-owned company registered in Switzerland, for a token price of $1 in May 2009. Mabofi Holdings, a company held by the owner of Emfesz's former parent company, the Ukrainian businessman Dmitry Firtash, contested the purchase in court.

Speaking after the court decision, Góczi called the ruling “incomprehensible” and said an appeal would be filed. The court annulled the sale because the judge found the language of the authorization allowing it to be unclear, he added.

Góczi said at the time that Emfesz had outstanding receivables of HUF 8 – 9 billion, including HUF 3.3 billion from retail consumers, Góczi said. The company's liabilities are minimal, he added.

Emfesz earlier sold gas to 300,000 retail consumers, 300 local councils, 1,100 institutional consumers, 6,000 SMEs and several hundred industrial companies.