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Hungarian State Paid HUF 17 Billion for Mátra Power Plant, Reveals PMO Head

Ábrahám Vass 2020.03.26.

The state-owned MVM Hungarian Electricity Ltd. purchased the Mátra Power Plant and paid HUF 17.4 billion (Eur 49 million) to billionaire businessman Lőrinc Mészáros’ Opus Global Ltd, the leader of the Prime Minister’s Office announced.

At his regular press briefing, Gergely Gulyás argued that the acquisition of Status Power Invest, which owns the [country’s second-biggest] power plant by MVM is a matter of “national strategic significance” and is justified by the need of a technological upgrade to meet climate protection goals. The power plant provides for 16% of Hungary’s electricity production and plays a key role in protecting jobs and maintaining economic stability in the region, Gulyás explained.

Mészáros’ Opus Global Holding bought the Mátra Power Plant from RWE in spring 2018. According to leftist daily Népszava‘s information, Opus paid around 11 billion forints (Eur 31.1 million) for the plant. Although in 2015 and 2016 it generated profit, this was not the case in 2017 and 2018 partly due to the drastic increase of the carbon-dioxide quota prices. The Opus (and the other proprietor that was MVM) still decided to take out dividends worth HUF 11.2 billion (EUR 31.7 million) from profit reserves accumulated in previous years. In addition, in 2019, the plant was also on the receiving end of a state subsidy worth HUF 7 billion forint (EUR 19.8 million).

It was announced at the end of last year that the state would buy, transform, and modernize it. According to estimations, the transformation would cost around HUF 200-300 billion (EUR 605-906 million), a large part of which would, however, be covered by EU subsidies and the EU’s Modernization Fund.

The power plant made headlines in November due to dangerous gas leaking and pollution of the nearby creeks, the reasons for which, and those responsible, have yet to be brought to light.

Although the government announced months ago that the state would buy the power plant, the actual price was not revealed up until now. The aquisition was harshly criticized by the opposition, who saw it as the government helping the Prime Minister’s childhood friend to get rid of the power plant. However, the government repeatedly emphasized that the Mátra plant plays a key role in the country’s energy security and through its purchase, they can save thousands of jobs. Still, the price will be a matter of controversy, as according to Népszava’s speculations, based on the previous price and the dividends, the plant would have been worth less, around 3-4 billion forints.

featured image via MTI/Péter Komka