A company owned by Hungary’s favorite rag-to-riches billionaire entrepreneur, Lőrinc Mészáros, has been awarded a nearly HUF 2 billion contract to modernize railway crossings across the country, reports online business daily napi.hu.
Mészáros just happens to be a close childhood friend of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán who also happens to be the mayor of Felcsút, Orbán’s home town.
R-Kord Építőipari Kft. won all four tenders issued by the Hungarian State Railways company (MÁV Zrt.) to modernize existing railway crossings in the north, south, east and west of the country. The company will install new crossing gates and replace the lighting in existing ones with LED lamps for a total of HUF 1.998 billion (USD 7.3 million).
The contract was signed on July 12, according to the Public Procurement Gazette.
This is not the company’s first railway-related project. Last year it won a tender to modernize the train line between Szombathely and Zalaszentiván together with consortium partner Swietelsky Vasútechnika Kft.
The company also won a tender to reconstruct and renovate the railway between Szántód, Kőröshegy and Balatonszentgyörgy as part of a consortium with Swietelsky and a third company named V-Híd. The winning offer of HUF 72.38 billion (USD 263 million) exceeded the estimated cost by some HUF 16.8 billion (USD 61 million).
An unbroken winning streak
The contracts extend the rags-to-riches billionaire’s unbroken streak of winning lucrative government contracts at public tender.
In April this year one of Mészáros’s other construction companies, Mészáros és Mészáros, won a HUF 2.95 billion tender together with consortium partner West Hungária Bau Kft. to build a sports academy in Izsák within the framework of the National Educational Infrastructural Development Program.
Endowed with special abilities
Shortly after R-Kord signed the contract with MÁV, it acquired the Ramada Hotel in Balatonalmádi, and is reportedly in negotiation to acquire the Hunguest chain of 19 different hotels. Daily economic online napi.hu reports:
“Discussions are under way concerning the takeover of the Hunguest hotel chain—here there are 19 hotels to be given over. Without doubt the best purchase are the hotels that are under liquidation: the Salaris Resort Hotel (pictured below) in Egerszalók, and the Lifestyle Hotel Mátra in Mátraház. The latter formerly belonged to the Quaestor group. In addition to these, presumably they are considering buying other hotels as well, since the Felcsut mayor endowed with special abilities is already eyeing touristical investments in Croatia as well as Budapest hotels.”
The article would seem to confirm rumors earlier this year that the Prime Minister’s daughter Rachel Orbán had her heart set on running the four-star Salaris Resort Hotel, and that in this regard the prime minister’s childhood friend (and some believe straw man) Lőrinc Mészáros intended to accommodate her.