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Two Hungarians Among the World’s Richest

Ábrahám Vass 2019.03.06.

Bank leader Sándor Csányi and fast-emerging construction mogul Lőrinc Mészáros are among the richest people in the world according to the 2019 Forbes World’s Billionaires list.

In the Hungarian edition of the prestigious business weekly published at the end of 2018, Csányi lagged behind Mészáros, coming in second domestically. Yet, the American edition depicts Csányi as the richest Hungarian in the world. This year’s list has him in 1941st place with a net worth of $1.1 billion (€ 973 million).

Forbes notes that Csányi is the most powerful banker in Hungary. As the CEO of OTP Bank, he has managed to turn the banking company into one of the largest financial services firms in Central and Eastern Europe over the last 25 years. In addition, he is also Hungary’s biggest investor in agriculture. Bonafarm Ltd. operates the second biggest slaughterhouse in the nation. Furthermore, he sits on the board of regional oil giant MOL and leads the Hungarian Football Association (MLSZ).

Lőrinc Mészáros, with an estimated net worth of $1 billion (€ 885 million), made it to the top level for the first time in 2057th place. Forbes takes careful note of Mészáros’ close relationship with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and the government. He began his career at a small gas-fitting company in Felcsút, Orbán’s 1700-resident hometown. The Fidesz leader later tapped Mészáros to be the president of the Ferenc Puskás Football Academy and the mayor of Felcsút. Forbes highlights the fact that his gas-fitting company, Mészáros & Mészáros Ltd., “is now a big player in the construction market thanks to contracts from the government.” Mészáros also has significant interests in the energy, media, tourism, sports, insurance and banking sectors.

Front-page of Forbes’ Hungarian edition, published at the end of 2018. Via Forbes

The magazine also cites Mészáros’ famed bon mot: “That I have been able to come so far, God, luck and the person of Viktor Orbán have certainly played a role.”

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos still heads Forbes’ list followed by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and leader of Berkshire Hathaway holding, Warren Buffet. From the region, aside from nine Austrians, eight Czechs (including PM Andrej Babiš), seven Poles and seven Ukrainians, only one Romanian and two Slovakians made it onto the list.

featured image: PM Orbán with Csányi, Mészáros and former Minister of Agriculture, Sándor Fazekas; via MTI/Szilárd Koszticsák