Hungary's supreme court annuls fourth licence award

27 Feb 2013

Dow Jones Newswires reports that Hungary’s highest court, the Curia, yesterday annulled a mobile frequency auction that would have facilitated the launch of a fourth network operator in the country. In its 26 February ruling, the Curia adjudged that the tender was ‘unlawful’, upholding a previous ruling from the Budapest Metropolitan Court and following an appeal by rival telecoms operators against the original licence award in January 2012.

The Curia’s decision means the launch of would-be start-up, state-backed MPVI Mobil, will now be postponed or cancelled. Ahead of the outcome of the court hearing, last month MPVI Mobil accepted the resignation of its chairman and chief executive Istvan Kalmar and Pal Schmidt. The newcomer, which is owned by Hungarian Development Bank subsidiary MFB Invest (45%), the electricity utility MVM (45%) and Magyar Posta (10%), saw its efforts to launch bogged down in the court system after its licence award was nullified by the metropolitan court in September last year. The court called for the whole auction process to be repeated, and in November 2012 local press rumours suggested that the government had already given up on its plan to launch a new market entrant.

Following the Curia’s ruling, rival operators Magyar Telekom and Telenor Hungary say they hope the state will find an effective way of handling the spectrum. The government however, was not available for comment.

Hungary, MPVI Mobil