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MSZP alleges illegal state aid used to acquire Mátrai Erőmű, appeals to EC

The Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) is turning to the European Commission over what the opposition party alleges was illegal state aid used to acquire Mátrai Erőmű, the second-largest power plant in the country, a party official said on Wednesday, according to a report by state news wire MTI.

MSZP vice president László Szakács said documents the party sued to obtain show the "cloak-and-dagger" deal cost the state HUF 75 billion, including a shareholder loan of close to HUF 5 bln, a HUF 26 bln capital raise and the takeover of HUF 26 bln of debt, on top of the HUF 17.5 bln purchase price announced by the government.

The state acquired Mátrai Erőmű from listed holding company Opus Global, controlled by business magnate and key Orbán ally Lőrinc Mészáros, in the spring. Mátrai Erőműʼs management has since outlined plans to add a 500 MW gas-fueled combined-cycle block at the plant and install solar parks with a combined capacity of 440 MW at its lignite mines which are gradually being recultivated.

Mátrai Erőmű has five coal-fueled blocks, built in the 1960ʼs and 70ʼs, and two gas turbines built in the 2000ʼs. It also has two open-pit lignite mines. The plant accounts for close to 14% of domestic electricity generation.