A ruling on Monday by the Kuria, Hungary’s supreme court, that foreign-currency loans issued in the past decade by local banks were legal, triggered a jump in shares of OTP, Hungary’s largest bank, on the Budapest Stock Exchange. The stock – often seen as a proxy for the Hungarian economy – gained more than 5 per cent to Ft 4,420 in the early afternoon, before easing back to close at Ft 4,311, up 2.8 per cent.
Foreign-currency loans, predominantly in Swiss francs, became hugely popular in Hungary between 2001 and 2008 as borrowers rushed to take advantage of much lower interest rates than those on loans taken out in forint, the local currency. Continue reading »
Mol, the Hungarian oil and gas group, has acquired stakes in 14 oil exploration and production units in the North Sea for $375m from Wintershall, a member of the German BASF Group, Mol said on Friday.
The deal, Mol’s first foray into off-shore operations, gives the Budapest-based group a foothold in the well-established region to the north and east of the Scottish coast, with a mix of some wells that are currently producing oil and others of significant future potential. Continue reading »
With a restrained grin, Mihaly Varga, Hungary’s economy minister, pressed the button to open trading at the Budapest Stock Exchange (BSE) on Friday – simultaneously inaugurating the Xetra trading system for the first time in the Hungarian capital. Continue reading »
Hungary has been pumping out the positive spin on economic news for over a year now.
Back then it was surely premature, but with inflation and the base rate at record lows and economic growth finally appearing – some independent analysts forecasting around 1 per cent expansion this year – there is some evidence to support claims of success.
So Tuesday’s news from Transparency International (TI) that Hungary’s ranking in its annual Corruptions Perceptions Index (CPI) is virtually unchanged from last year would appear, if not good news, at least to avoid any further bad headlines about sliding down a slippery slope. After all, the country dropped just one place, to 47 out of 177 countries examined, with 54 points on a scale of 100, also just one less than 2012.
Not so fast, warns Jozsef Peter Martin, TI executive director in Budapest. Continue reading »
While winemakers in a number of western Europe appellations – most particular Bordeaux – are complaining of poor grape harvests this year, vineyards in Hungary’s Tokaj hills – famous for their sweet dessert ‘aszu’ wines – have enjoyed one of the best ever seasons.
Despite an unusually cold September and some light frosts in early October, the remainder of the month, into early November brought clear, cold nights, misty mornings and clear, warm sunny days – ideal conditions for nuturing the so-called “noble rot” needed to turn the grape into an ‘aszu’ berry needed for what Louis XIV of France reputedly declared to be “The Wine of Kings and the King of Wines”. Continue reading »
As expected by the markets, Hungary’s central bank cut the base rate from 3.4 per cent to 3.2 per cent on Tuesday – the sixteenth consecutive monthly cut since the process began in August 2012.
The Hungarian forint depreciated slightly on the news, climbing a fraction to 298.48 to the euro in afternoon trading. Continue reading »
If Hungarian bankers – already facing another year of heavy losses – thought things could not get worse, they just have.
Only days after Karl Sevelda, chief executive of Raiffeisen Bank International, more than hinted he was prepared to withdraw from some central European countries, including Hungary, due to the unfavorable business climate, the competition office in Budapest on Wednesday announced fines on 11 commercial banks totaling Ft 9.5bn (€32m). Continue reading »
Hungary’s central bank once again cut the base rate on Tuesday – for the fifteenth consecutive month – trimming 20 basis points off the previous figure to bring the key rate down to another record low of 3.40 per cent.
That means Hungary has, slice by slice, capitalised on its improving inflation figures and the benign global climate to more than halve the base rate from August last year, when it stood at 7.00 per cent. Continue reading »
Mol, the Hungarian oil and gas group, offered what appears to be an olive branch to Croatia on Thursday in the ongoing row over the control of Ina, the Zagreb-based refiner in which Mol owns just short of 50 per cent. Continue reading »
It’s official! Viktor Orban, the nominally “centre-right” prime minister of Hungary and former anti-communist student dissident, wants to nationalise the energy utilities that were privatised by the “communists” in the mid-1990s.
Orban, or members of his circle have long implied it, but as the prime minister made it clear in his regular interview on state radio on Friday morning. Continue reading »
Hungary shows all the signs of joining the emerging markets rush to tap bond markets before the onset of any tapering gains effect, gearing up for a US bond issue of up to $5bn, according to a shelf registration filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in New York on Tuesday. Continue reading »
Hungarian vintners will be hoping for sun this weekend – not because of any harvest considerations, but because it’s the Budapest Wine Festival – a five-day extravaganza of wine, food, music and dance which started quietly on Wednesday but which will be revving up from Friday afternoon, if the skies stay clear. Continue reading »
The Republic of Macedonia, which is hoping for a double-digit rise in its tourism sector this year will be pleased with news of swelling passenger numbers at the country’s two international airports.
In August, a key month for tourism in the former Yugoslav republic, Skopje’s Alexander the Great Airport saw 115,000 passengers through its gates, a 23 per cent jump on the same month last year, TAV Macedonia, the airports’ operator, said this week. Continue reading »
Viktor Orban, Hungary’s prime minister, may denounce the European Union for what he calls “double standards” when dealing with Budapest; he may liken the Brussels administration of today to Moscow’s occupation of yesteryear; but when it comes to any loss of EU funding, he pretty quickly sends his top sidekicks to the Commission with strict instructions to talk nice and quietly – and get the money flowing again. Continue reading »
Solyom Hungarian Airways, the new Hungarian airline that is promising to serve 96 destinations with a fleet of 50 jets by 2017, has barely launched its website, let alone a fully loaded aeroplane – before coming under attack.
And from an unusual source: Wizz Air, a low-fare airline in Central and Eastern Europe, is normally a low-key player when it comes to commenting on rivals – certainly it eschews the headline-grabbing verbal fireworks associated with Ryanair. But a statement by Wizz on Thursday was a little more spiky than usual. Continue reading »