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REFILE- Hungary's Szemerey plans to build on MKB investment
April 27, 2017 / 11:03 AM / 8 months ago

REFILE- Hungary's Szemerey plans to build on MKB investment

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* New MKB owner Szemerey wants to boost stake in MKB -daily

* Szemerey and MKB’s CEO bought 30 pct indirect stake in MKB

* MKB Bank was privatised last year after big restructuring

* PM Orban has aimed to boost Hungarian ownership in banks

By Krisztina Than

BUDAPEST, April 27 (Reuters) - Hungarian businessman Tamas Szemerey plans to boost his stake in MKB Bank and is looking at more acquisitions in the sector after taking a 20.2 percent indirect stake in MKB, he told newspaper Magyar Idok on Thursday.

State-owned MKB, Hungary’s fifth-largest lender by assets, was privatised last year after its distressed assets had been spun off under a restructuring plan approved by the European Commission.

The bank said on Wednesday that Szemerey bought a 20.2 percent indirect stake in MKB via his company BanKonzult, while MKB Bank Chief Executive Adam Balog took a 9.8 percent indirect stake via his company Promid Invest.

Szemerey and Balog invested in MKB by buying the owner of a Luxembourg-based fund called Blue Robin Investments SCA which bought 45 percent of MKB from the state last year.

The bank’s sale last year was managed by the National Bank of Hungary (NBH) -- the central bank -- which took control of MKB after Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government bought it from Germany’s BayernLB in 2014.

The purchase of MKB was a key plank in Orban’s strategy to have more than half of the country’s banks in Hungarian ownership. The two new investors have links to his government.

Szemerey is a cousin of National Bank Governor Gyorgy Matolcsy, one of Orban’s strongest allies.

Balog, a former state secretary at the Economy Ministry under Matolcsy, was also a deputy governor under Matolcsy at the central bank, before taking over at MKB as the central bank wrapped up MKB’s resolution.

Szemerey also owns small Novekedesi Hitel Bank.

He told Magyar Idok that he had not asked for information about MKB from his cousin, Matolcsy, before he decided to buy a stake.

“My relationship with Gyorgy Matolcsy is of a family nature. I have never asked for any information with relation to MKB Bank from him, and I‘m sure that he would not have given any such information anyway,” Szemerey said.

Szemerey said it was conceivable that either alone, or with other banks or investors, he would bid for further stakes in other local banks in the future.

“Now I am mostly preoccupied with the possibility of acquiring a further stake in MKB, but this is not a goal that we want to achieve at all costs,” he said.

The National Bank of Hungary declined comment.

A Hungarian private equity fund called Metis owns 45 percent of MKB, while Hungarian pension fund Pannonia owns 10 percent. The ownership structure of Metis is not known.

Hungary’s top three banks are OTP, K&H Bank and Italian-owned Unicredit. (Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Keith Weir)

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