Hungary’s development minister Zsuzsa Nemeth has said that the government has no intention of acquiring one of the country’s mobile network operators, dismissing recent press speculation linking the state with a bid, most notably for Vodafone Hungary. Dow Jones Newswires writes that in a parliamentary committee meeting yesterday, Nemeth scotched recent speculation in the press that the state was eyeing a stake in one of the country’s privately-owned cellcos. Press rumours have been mounting in recent weeks following the court’s annulment of the frequency tender concluded on 31 January 2012 – which signalled the government’s failure to set up a state-owned mobile operator, and prompted speculation it would instead buy into an existing one.
In February this year Hungary’s highest court, the Curia, annulled a mobile frequency auction that would have facilitated the launch of a fourth network operator. 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.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database 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, in January 2013 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.