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Malév makes first repayment on Vnesheconombank loans

Hungarian national airline Malév has made its first repayment on €114 million in loans from Russia's state-owned Vnesheconombank (VEB), about six months after the bank took an indirect stake in the airline, Russian business daily Kommersant reported on Tuesday, citing information from the Hungarian-Russian intergovernment committee.

Malév made the first repayment, of €465,000, a week earlier, the paper said. VEB confirmed the first repayment had been made.

Malév was renationalized in February through a HUF 25.4 billion capital raise by the state, including HUF 20.7 billion in cash and HUF 4.7 billion in converted debt.

In March, the government decided on an HUF 8.1 billion owners' loan for Malév to give it liquidity to operate. But disbursement of the loan was delayed by VEB - the 49% owner of AirBridge, Malév's former majority owner which now holds a 5% stake in the airline - until Malév's ground handling unit was put up as collateral. The first, HUF 3.44 billion tranche of the loan was paid on July 1, sources close to the intergovernment committee told Kommersant.

A full review of Malév's position is to be completed by July 20, after which time a decision on the airline's future can be made.

VEB has said it is prepared to part with its stake if a strategic investor is interested in the airline.

Asked by MTI a few days earlier whether there were any plans to involve a private investor in Malév, government commissioner in charge of air travel Attila Márton said no, but he did not exclude the possibility of the airline being an attractive investment, perhaps even to Hungarian investors. The question is only when, he added. (MTI-Econews)