Gov't Declares Vodafone Acquisition of Nat'l Strategic Importance

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The government has declared Antenna Hungaria's acquisition of a controlling stake in Vodafone Hungary of "national strategic importance", thus exempting the deal from the scrutiny of the competition authority, in a decree published in official gazette Magyar Közlöny.

The measure was taken "in the interest of the security of provision of telecommunications in Hungary", according to the decree.

On Monday, Antenna Hungária, which is owned by listed ICT company 4iG, and state-owned Corvinus entered into a final sale and purchase agreement with Vodafone Europe to acquire 100% of Vodafone Hungary for HUF 660 billion. The acquisition is expected to close on January 31, giving 4iG an indirect 51% stake in Vodafone Hungary and the state of Hungary an indirect 49% stake.

Antenna Hungária has taken out a loan from the Hungarian Development Bank (MFB) and other lenders to finance the acquisition.

In a statement issued earlier this week, Economic Development Minister Márton Nagy said the government has made it a "priority goal" to boost domestic ownership in strategic sectors, such as the insurance and telecommunications sectors, over the 50% threshold, as has happened in the banking, energy and media sectors.

"The acquisition of Vodafone Hungary serves this purpose and will further strengthen Hungary's sovereignty," he added.

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