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Mészáros resigns as mayor to focus on business

Investor Lőrinc Mészáros, the former pipe fitter who has risen to become one of Hungaryʼs richest men under the patronage of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, his close ally and neighbor in the village of Felcsút of which he has been mayor since 2011, said on Monday he would resign as mayor to concentrate on his business holdings.   

Mészáros (left), pictured with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Mészáros said he had informed the townʼs deputy mayor and notary in writing of his resignation on April 20.  He noted that "significant transactions" lie ahead for the listed companies under his control, requiring his full attention as owner and making it impossible for him to devote sufficient effort to the tasks of public service.

Mészáros owns big stakes in listed holding companies Konzum and Opus Global. The shares of both companies have risen markedly in the past year on the Budapest Stock Exchange.

In its Friday news bulletin, commercial TV station RTL Klub - known for being critical of the government in its news coverage - observed that with his departure from a public role, Mészáros - whose relationship with reporters not belonging to the government-controlled media has been at best frosty, at times openly hostile when questioned about his business interests - will no longer need to answer journalistsʼ questions at all.

Online news portal index.hu recalls that when Mészáros was elected mayor five companies under his name had combined assets of a little over HUF 1 billion. Since then, he has acquired interests in more than 30 companies, with combined assets according to index.huʼs most recent calculations last summer amounting to some HUF 57 billion. Since then, it adds, the number of firms connected to Mészáros has continued to expand, and thus the accumulated wealth.

Starting with construction, the network of Mészáros companies has rapidly grown to include concerns in the media, hotel trade, banking and electrical power generation, among other areas.