It is not uncommon for us to publish at least one story per week of some new business venture being undertaken by Lőrinc Mészáros (pictured), the lowly pipefitter-turned business savant many believe to be a front for Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
Last week, Hungarian online daily 24.hu reported that one of Mészáros’s companies, Talentis Group, had acquired an 81.7 percent share of Gong Rádió, a radio station operating in Kecskemét, Nagykőrös, Csongrád, Gyömrő, Solt, and Baja.
Gong is the most widely listened-to radio station in Kecskemét, with a reported 51.4 percent market share in the 18-59 age group.
The acquisition reportedly cost around HUF 300 million (USD 1.1 million), and involved the buying out of several previous owners, which included Péter Feldmájer, the former president of the Hungarian Association of Jewish Communities (MAZSIHISZ), and relatives of informal Orbán advisor Árpád Habony. The remainder of the company is owned by the Fidesz-led Kecskemét city government.
The Mészáros family also recently acquired Part FM, a radio broadcaster in the Lake Balaton region. The pipefitter-turned media guru also owns MediaWorks Zrt., the former publisher of Népszabadság, giving him control to the rights of more than 200 media products in Hungary, including Világgazdaság, Nemzeti Sport, Manager Magazin, and the majority of Hungary’s regional print dailies. Mészáros also owns Echo TV, which he bought from Gábor Széles.
In addition to acquiring a sizable portion of Hungary’s media landscape without raising the eyebrows of Hungarian media or competition authorities, Mészáros has substantial holdings in banking, real estate development, hotel chains, agriculture, campsites, construction, and energy.