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Gordeyev calls for objective decision on Malév sale

Russian Agriculture Minister Aleksey Gordeyev, on a two-day official visit to Budapest, has asked Hungary's government to remove politics from a decision on the privatization of state-owned airline Malév, news agency Interfax reported yesterday. The State Privatization and Holding Company (APV) scrapped the last tender for Malév in August 2005 without declaring a winner because of "business, professional and employment considerations." But industry insiders speculated the sale was called off after it became clear that Russia's AiRUnion was the front runner, bidding through its Hungarian unit AirBridge. The government repeatedly denied afterward that the sale was scrapped because it could have placed Hungary's national carrier with a Russian-controlled company. Gyurcsány even assured Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov at Russian official calls for objective decision on Malév sale a meeting in September 2005 that the decision to call of the tender was not politically motivated. Air Union’s owners have said several times in the past twelve months that they intend to bid again for Malév when it is put up for sale. The government is expected to call another tender for the airline shortly. (MTI-ECONEWS)