Government-friendly companies cash in on football fever

The construction of football stadiums in Hungary is continuing, much to the frustration of those opposing the reigning government’s priorities. Atlatszo.hu has explored the background of the situation before, now, we had a look at the companies that benefit the most from the unwavering sports-craze. Unsurprisingly, we found many familiar names, companies loyal to the governing political forces.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban is a big football fan, which is the key driver behind the fact that a large number of football stadiums are currently under construction throughout Hungary, as Atlatszo.hu reported earlier.

This time, we went through the public procurement calls pertaining to the stadium-building projects to determine which contractors benefitted the most from the total HUF 60 billion (€190.5 million) earmark. We found many familiar companies. Our research relied on publicly available data. Whenever jobs were awarded to consortia, we calculated each company’s share based on their stake in the group. When percentages were not given, we assumed equal shares of the awarded sum.

Market Zrt – HUF 15.1 billion (€48 million)

At the top of the list is Istvan Garancsi’s Market Zrt, a repeat-beneficiary of the reigning Fidesz government’s rule. His company was in charge of building the Groupama Arena, Hungary’s biggest operating stadium for the time being, along with smaller value involvement in two regional facilities.

ZAEV Zrt – HUF 12.3 billion (€39 million)

The stadium-building initiatives come in waves, and while Market cashed in big on the first one, the second-round winner is definitely ZAEV. The company is currently involved in building four stadiums in Budapest as well as in regional locations. After the conflict between Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his former close ally Lajos Simicska, the ousted oligarch’s Kozgep construction company is rumored to have been succeeded by ZAEV.

Swietelsky Magyarorszag Kft – HUF 6.7 billion (€21.2 million)

The Austrian-owned Swietelsky is in the top ranks with only one project. The firm’s share comes from a joint operation with ZAEV building the stadium in western-Hungary’s Szombathely.

HUNEP Universal Zrt and EPKERSERVICE Zrt – HUF 5.8 billion (€18.4 million) each

The two firms are featured in the same entry because they both collected their share from building a single stadium in consortium in eastern Hungary’s Debrecen. The city is a well-known bastion of the governing Fidesz party.

Meszaros es Meszaros Kft. – HUF 3.8 billion (€12 million)

Lorinc Meszaros‘s company not only features directly on the list, but his companies are also involved in a number of other ongoing projects as subcontractors. The mayor of Viktor Orban’s home town got the contract to building the arena in Felcsut, right next to the premier’s home.

West Hungaria Bau Kft – HUF 3.2 billion (€10.1 million)

Another ZAEV partner, West Hungaria Bau is currently building the new home for the MTK Budapest football team. The company’s star is quickly rising, it has also received several lucrative state contracts in recently years.

Pharos ’95 Kft – HUF 2 billion (€6.3 million)

This entry is somewhat interesting. Although the value of the commissioned projects doesn’t seem particularly high in comparison, records show that Pharos has participated in 11 different investments. The company was involved in projects in the hometown of Andras Tallai, currently head of the tax authority and has also done jobs in Felcsut.

Fold-Trans 2001 Kft – HUF 2 billion (€6.3 million)

The company is featured on the list for its participation of tearing down the old main stadium in Budapest.

Betonsped Zrt – HUF 906 million (€2.9 million)

The company was awarded the job of building the stadium in northwest Hungary’s Gyor. There was no public procurement, the contractor was handpicked.

O es R Kft – HUF 398.5 million (€1.3 million)

The company has built what has become the synonym of a pointless investment. Kozarmisleny is a small township near southern Hungary’s Pecs, which is currently competing in the second league. It is a town essentially unknown anywhere else in the country, as such, the stadium is not proving to be worthwhile venture.

Elios Zrt – HUF 306.8 million (€974,000)

The company famous for having once been the direct interest of Istvan Tiborcz, Prime Minister Orban’s son-in-law was involved in four different stadium projects, installing lighting features. All of these projects were completed before Tiborcz divested his direct ownership stake in the firm.

Merkbau Kft – HUF 303.9 million (€965,000)

The company was commissioned with installing roofing over a section of the stadium in western-Hungary’s Sopron. Apparently, implementation wasn’t without it faults, locals started complaining shortly afterwards over the quality.

Roneko Kft – HUF 281.9 million (€895,000)

The company was a close associate of Tiborcz’s Elios, the two were awarded their stadium contracts together. Its owner, Ferenc Nemes is a well-known figure in football, having been owner, manager of football clubs and at one point a member of the national federation.

Strabag – HUF 224 million (€711,000)

The Austrian company is usually discarded nowadays as a discredited form having had good relations with the earlier left-wing governments. However, this doesn’t seem to be the case, Strabag still managed to make the list with two different projects.

Original article in Hungarian.