The son of National Bank of Hungary governor György Matolcsy, Ádám Matolcsy, acquired Origo.hu, Hungary’s second most popular news website, on Wednesday through his company Magyar Stratégia Zrt. Young Matolcsy purchased the website from New Wave Media, a company owned by István Száraz (another member of the Fidesz economic hinterland), who helped pay for Origo’s operations with public funds — eventually driving the quality straight out of the once highly reputable online daily.
According to 444.hu, Ádám Matolcsy had already been acting as though he ran the online daily. Origo’s complex ownership structure in the post-Magyar Telekom days had already been tied to Tamás Szemerey, György Matolcsy’s cousin.
It is not yet clear how young Matolcsy financed his purchase of Origo. According to 444, financial records of Magyar Stratégia Zrt. show that his company closed 2016 with a profit of HUF 170 million (USD 625,000), whereas Origo’s value may likely be worth millions of dollars.
Rumors in the Hungarian media scene suggest Origo’s ties to the Matolcsy clan have been tight all along, and this recent purchase was merely a formality.
In an interview given to pro-government Magyar Idők shortly after news broke of the sale, the National Bank governor’s son said he bought Origo with his own resources and by taking over some of New Wave Media’s loans.
Young Matolcsy said he called his father first to ask whether the acquisition would cause any political backlash.
“I did not ask [György Matolcsy] for any advice regarding the transition, but I did ask what kind of political damage any negative media reports might cause him. He left the decision up to me, so I would not feel as though my family name stops me from accomplishing anything.”
As for the quality of Origo, young Matolcsy made no indication that the once reputable daily turned government propaganda outlet would change its editorial slant.