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Libri taken over by MCC

June 16th, 2023

As government-funded MCC becomes the almost exclusive owner of Hungary’s largest bookseller and publishing company, a pro-government pundit ridicules liberal protests against the takeover.

Matthias Corvinus Collegium, a conservative think tank that conducts various educational, research, and cultural projects has acquired an over 98 percent share in the Libri conglomerate which owns Hungary’s largest network of bookstores and several publishing houses. MCC declared that the management would remain in place and no changes are planned in Libri’s operations or in the kind of books it publishes and sells.

Analysing the background of the deal, Klub Radio writes on its website that MCC already held over 20 percent of Libri shares and bought up those of the majority owner who probably needed the money to pay for the renovation of the historic Corvin department store in the centre of Budapest.

RTL television reports that several liberal authors announced their intention to break with Libri after the takeover. The TV station mentions three authors by name who say that have lost their confidence in Libri.

24.hu quotes further two writers who will remain with Libri as long as their editors are in place.

In Magyar Nemzet, György Pilhál pokes fun at Éva Péterfy who announced her decision not to co-operate with Libri any longer. Pilhál sarcastically wonders if her departure might prove a fatal blow to Libri. He mentions that she and her husband, Gergely who is also a writer have moved to Italy recently because they couldn’t stand ‘the atmosphere of hatred and exclusion’ which reigns in Hungary. He asks if they can’t co-operate with Libri, ‘who is exclusionist in this story?’

Telex quotes a comment from the blogsite of economist Zoltán Pogátsa who finds it futile for liberals to wail over the takeover of a single publishing house. Were there a strong middle class in Hungary, Pogátsa writes, authors who don’t like Libri’s new owners could choose from many other viable ones. If a few businesses have become hegemonic in the book market, he argues, it is the fault of liberals who, when in government in the 1990s, conducted an economic policy that favoured big business.

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