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Government and 4iG to buy Vodafone Hungary

August 24th, 2022

A liberal commentator accuses the government of financing a private takeover in an effort to boost control over a key component of the infrastructure. A pro-government columnist welcomes the deal as a further step in strengthening national sovereignty.

Vodafone has agreed to sell its Hungarian business for $1.8bn to streamline its global operations and allow it to reduce debt. Vodafone is Hungary’s number two telecommunications giant, just behind Telekom.

In 444, Pál Dániel Rényi finds it suspicious that the government is providing 49 percent of the price, leaving the private partner in a position to take strategic decisions with its 51 percent. This amounts to using public money to finance private enterprise, he writes. All the more so, Rényi continues, as 4iG has built a swift career thanks to public procurement contracts over the past four years. He speculates that the government wants to completely take the information-communications sector under its control.

In Magyar Nemzet, by contrast, Gergely Kiss recalls that earlier left-liberal governments systematically sold off Hungary’s critical infrastructure to foreign enterprises, while the current government is gradually taking them back. Hungarian ownership, he continues, has been brought back to over 50% in banking, media and the energy sectors, and now an important step has been made in a new field. Hungarian ownership in key branches of the economy, Kiss writes, is a matter of national sovereignty.

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