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E.ON sells Hungary natural gas firms to state-owned MVM

Hungary bought back German utility E.ON SE’s domestic natural-gas businesses as Prime Minister Viktor Orbán seeks to strengthen the state’s hold on strategic assets and deliver on a pledge to slash back utility prices. The government paid about €870 million ($1.1 billion) for E.ON’s gas storage units and gas distribution business, including liabilities, state-owned energy company MVM Zrt and E.ON said in statements Thursday. Orbán is reversing earlier privatizations as he seeks to boost his Cabinet’s role in industries considered strategically important. The government is imposing mandatory household utility price cuts as Orbán gears up for elections next year. The final price depends on the value of gas inventories on the closing day of the transaction, which is expected in the second half of 2013, pending approval from authorities.