A former gas and water pipe-fitter – now richer than the Queen of England, or the author of the Harry Potter books, or Christiano Ronaldo – Mészáros is a childhood friend of Viktor Orbán’s.
Mészáros once revealed that he and Orbán got closer when in 1999 Viktor Orbán joined the Felcsút football club and wanted to make his dream about creating a football academy come true. When a foundation was created for this purpose, Mészáros was chosen to be head of the board. This was probably one of the first steps on the road to his outstanding business success.
In an interview Mészáros once admitted that “God, good luck, and Viktor Orbán” must have played a role in his career, though he added that he “never privatized, never stole anything”, but got hold of all he has “through hard work and his brain”.
Head of foundations, former council member and mayor, businessman, major landowner
By now he has an estimated wealth of nearly 900 million euros (296 billion HUF), which puts him next to the banking billionaire Sándor Csányi on the richest Hungarians list. Mészáros’s businesses are present in technically all the sectors: banking, insurance and pension funds, the hotel industry, campsites, wineries, and the energy sector. Here are a few of the “jewels” of the Mészáros empire listed in Atlatszo’s drone video enumerating the assets of companies owned or controlled by Mészáros:
Kall Ingredients – a sugar factory in Tiszapüspöki
MKB Bank – the fourth biggest commercial bank in the country
Alkotás Point - office complex in Budapest
Echo TV – pro-government TV-channel
NAP TV building – the former headquarters of a media company
Hunguest Hotels – a hotel chain in Hungary
Balatontourist – a camping chain around Lake Balaton
Andrássy Residence – a hotel in the Tokaj wine region
Saliris Resort Spa – a luxury hotel and spa in Egerszalók
Keep it in the family
Atlatszo revealed that companies owned or controlled by Lőrinc Mészáros won countless public tenders, the majority of them funded by the European Union. We described how not only Mészáros himself, but his entire family is apparently talented enough to get richer every day by winning taxpayer-funded public tenders. A company – Fejér B.Á.L. Zrt. – owned by his children was contracted to deliver two major public infrastructure projects in the town of Érd. This company also won – without tendering – a 36 million euros (12 billion HUF) contract from the football foundation headed by Mészáros himself. We calculated that Fejér B.Á.L. Zrt. makes a profit of more than 3000 euros (a million HUF) every single day, mostly by winning high-value public tenders.
Other members of his family also get a piece of the cake: a company owned by his son-in-law, Zsolt Homlok, won a chunk of a railway project, while his brother is getting lucky with supplying equipment and clothing for infrastructure projects. Mészáros and his family are now at the first place on the family fortune list of the Hungarian Forbes.
Lőrinc Mészáros has bought formerly state-owned properties or companies following a capital injection from public money.
Mészáros and his companies are one of the largest beneficiaries of agricultural subsidies
Mészáros’s presence at the Budapest Stock Exchange (Appeninn, Opus, Konzum, 4iG, CIG Pannónia) is as successful as his business activities elsewhere. Two years ago Konzum was referred to by Bloomberg as “having the world’s best-performing stock in the world, its shares soaring more than fiftyfold on the Budapest exchange at one point“. Mészáros is a shareholder in a similarly well performing stock exchange company (4iG), which in 2019 acquired T-Systems, an IT company which won important government projects between 2016-2019. When Mészáros chose to buy up a media company, Mediaworks, the enterprise managed to triple its advertising revenue in a year – by cashing in on governmental advertising campaigns.
The same is true for his agricultural enterprises: Mészáros and his companies are also one of the largest beneficiaries of agricultural subsidies in Hungary each year. In 2017 Atlatszo.hu spent months mapping the enormous sale of state farmland in 2015-16 across the country. We summarized our findings in maps and infographics. The key finding of the investigation was that the biggest beneficiaries of the farmland auctions were Lőrinc Mészáros and his family: they bought altogether 1550 hectares of formerly state-owned farmland.
An important feature of this business empire is the introduction of private equity funds headed by Mészáros or one of his companies. Investors in these remain hidden, ownership is difficult to attribute. Lőrinc Mészáros’s wealth has grown so big by now, that some believe that a potential conflict between him and Viktor Orbán, or the bankruptcy of one of the Mészáros companies might create a sensitive situation for the Hungarian national economy as a whole.
Country : Hungary
Net Worth : 1.1 billion euro in January 2020 (Forbes)
= more than 40,000 years of the average salary in Hungary
= more than 160,000 years of the Hungarian minimum wage.
Sectors : Agriculture, Tourism, Banking, Railway and road constructions, Media, Telecommunication, Energy.