The state will buy Budapest Bank, Hungary’s eighth-biggest lender, from GE. A preliminary contract has been signed and the transaction is expected to close next July. Minister for National Economy Mihály Varga said the goal is to boost lending activity. The government does not intend to hold on to the bank in the long term and will sell it later, Varga said. In 2010 the government set out to ensure 50% of the country’s banking sector is in Hungarian ownership, he noted. This was now being fulfilled with the purchase of Budapest Bank and MKB, and would boost competition and improve services, though it was too early to say if the two banks would be merged. Budapest Bank had assets of HUF 905.4 billion at the end of last year. In September the state closed the acquisition of MKB Bank from German owner BayernLB.