MOL strengthens further against possible takeoverMOL Hungarian Oil and Gas announced on the Budapest Stock Exchange last Thursday that it had transferred 9,379,116 treasury shares to MFB Invest, thus opening the way for the company to buy more of its own shares and further defend against a takeover by Austria’s OMV.
Tokaj fears acid rain, EU plans to ban adding sugar to wineWinemakers in Hungary’s world famous Tokaj region are up in arms because of plans across the border in Slovakia to build a huge coal fired power station. The mayor of Sátoraljaújhely, 20km from the site of the proposed plant, has called on the government and environmental groups to oppose the plan.
A recent survey by debt collection company Intrum Justitia suggests that Hungarian companies are getting later with their payments. The report indicates that on average Hungarian companies paid their suppliers within 45.1 days so far this year, compared to 43.6 days last year. Overdue payments were on average 16.3 days late, while last year the figure was 14.8 days….
The government has invited bids in a tender for the building of the planned new government quarter near Nyugati railway station.
South Korean tyre-manufacturer Hankook began production at its EUR 500 million plant in Dunaújváros last week amid criticism from main opposition party Fidesz and complaints from employees. The plant, which currently employs 800 people, plans to make 5 million tyres per year in the first phase.
Hungary’s productivity has climbed to 60% of the EU average, according to a new report. Professor Ivan T. Berend of UCLA, speaking at a conference held to mark the 15th anniversary of the Hungarian Development Bank (MFB), put the rise down to massive USD 240 billion influx of cash since 1989. FDI accounts for two thirds of this figure, he said, and went on to liken the effect to that of funds paid out to Europe under the post-WW2 Marshall Plan. The gap between the east and the west in Europe is closing, he added. In 1990, productivity was USD 5-7 per hour in the region, less than a quarter of the USD 25-28 in Western Europe. The change in the relative level of pay does not reflect this change. In the early nineties, Hungarians took home just seven per cent of what their German counterparts earned. Today, Hungarian wages are still on average only about one-fifth of those in Germany.
The confidence level of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)Â dipped sharply in June, figures released last Thursday by Ecostat, the research arm of the Central Statistical Office (KSH) showed. Ecostat said that the SME business confidence index dropped to 39.7 points from 46.2, the lowest since September 2006. The drop marked the end of a steady eight-month rise in confidence. Regarding the future of their own business, only 11% of the managers were optimistic, as opposed to 26% in May. Some 45% of managers expressed pessimism, a sharp hike on the 29% in May.
A National Association of Entrepreneurs (VOSZ) survey has found that the inflationary pressure on wages is only due in a small part to government efforts to whiten the economy. Deputy Chairman of VOSZ Tamás Gláser told business daily Napi Gazdaság that only 20% of the rise was due to whitening, while up to 60% was up to real wage increases. The government has claimed that this date showed it was making great strides in tackling the black and grey economies. Hungarian National Bank Governor András Simor, while explaining the bank’s surprise rate cut last week, said that increases in gross wages were in part due to the whitening of the economy, and thus represented a smaller-than-thought inflationary risk.
The jobless rate fell to 7.3% in March-May from 7.5% in February-April, the Central Statistical Office said last Thursday. There were 307,700 jobless in March-May, down from 314,300 in Feb-April.
The European Court of Justice is set to rule in the autumn on whether Hungary’s local business tax complies with EU regulations after it finished hearing the case last Thursday. Complainant companies claim that the tax is turnover-based, while EU regulations allow only one such tax (VAT), and want their payments since Hungary joined the EU in May 2004 reimbursed.