Lőrinc Mészáros has become one of the most powerful business oligarchs in Hungary since Prime Minister Viktor Orbán returned to power in 2010. Mészáros has served as the Fidesz–Christian Democratic People’s Party-supported mayor of Orbán’s home village of Felcsút, located about 25 kilometers west of Budapest, since 2011
Football Friendship with Orbán
Mészáros began operating a small gas-fitting company in Felcsút (population 1,800) beginning in the 1990s. He became acquainted with Viktor Orbán through their common interest in football.
In 2007, Orbán appointed Mészáros to serve as president of the foundation established to manage the Ferenc Puskás Football Academy (Puskás Ferenc Labdarúgó Akadémia) that the former and future prime minister founded in Felcsút the previous year (source in Hungarian; see also One Man’s Plaything).
Mészáros continues to serve as president of the foundation that oversees the operations of the Ferenc Puskás Football Academy, which sponsors the Puskás Academy FC football team that played in first division of the Hungarian professional football league for three years until being relegated to the second division following the 2015–2016 season (source in Hungarian).
The team plays its home matches at the modern, 3,500-seat Pancho Arena built in Felcsút at a cost of 3.8 billion forints and opened in 2014 across the street from Prime Minister Orbán’s weekend home (source in Hungarian).
The Orbán II Era Brings Riches
Lőrinc Mészáros has become one of the richest men in Hungary since Viktor Orbán returned to power as prime minister in 2010 after his gas-fitting company nearly went bankrupt in 2007 (source in Hungarian).
His main enterprise, the construction company Mészáros and Mészáros, recorded 20.7 billion forints (approximately 67 million euros) in revenue in 2015, up from 9.8 billion forints in 2014 and 853,898 forints in 2010 (source A and B in Hungarian).
Mészáros and Mészáros has generated much of its revenue via state projects: in 2015, for example, the company won state tenders worth 36.7 billion forints along with consortium partners and 350 million forints in state tenders on its own (source in Hungarian).
Lőrinc Mészáros also operates an agribusiness company called Búzakalász (“Wheat Ear”) that generated over 8 billion forints in revenue in the four years from 2012 through 2015 after recording revenue of just under 277,000 in the year of its foundation in 2011 (source A and B in Hungarian).
In 2016, Mészáros established a car dealership and a hunting company, while media reports indicated that he is seeking to purchase a winery in the Tokaj wine region in northeastern Hungary as well as the Hunguest Hotels chain (source A, B, C and D in Hungarian).
Mészáros, members of his family and his business interests won concessions to sell tobacco at the 19 Auchan grocery stores in Hungary under the state monopoly on the retail sale of tobacco that the Orbán government introduced in 2013 (source in Hungarian).
The television station RTL Klub reported that four companies connected to Mészáros—Mészáros and Mészáros, R-Ford, Fejér B.Á.L. and Vivienvíz—had either alone or in consortium won state tenders worth 225 billion forints (721 million euros) in 2016 (source in Hungarian).
Mészáros has increased the number of companies he owns from one—Mészáros and Mészáros—when the Fidesz-Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) government returned to power in 2010 to just over 30 in 2016. The 22 companies that Mészáros owned in 2015 generated profit of 4.65 billion forints (around 15 million euros) on revenue of 45.3 billion forints (source in Hungarian)
The 31st Wealthiest Person in Hungary
Lőrinc Mészáros was ranked the 31st-richest person in Hungary in 2016 with estimated wealth of 23.8 billion forints, up from an estimated 15.4 billion forints in 2015 and 7.7 billion forints in 2014, the first year in which he appeared on the annual list of the 100 richest people in the country (source A and B in Hungarian).
In April 2014, Mészáros said during an interview: “That I have been able to reach so far, God, luck and the person of Viktor Orbán have certainly played a role, though I never privatized and I never took anything—I acquired everything through my work and my mind” (source in Hungarian).
State Land Purchases
In December 2015, Mészáros, his wife, his two daughters and his brother purchased 1,391 hectares (114 square kilometers) of land in the vicinity of Felcsút for 1.9 billion forints in a state land auction (source in Hungarian).
Purchase of Mediaworks Hungary
On October 25, 2016, Opimus Press—an offshore-owned company over which Mészáros reportedly exercises either indirect or direct influence—purchased Mediaworks Hungary from Vienna Capital Partners for an undisclosed price (sources A and B in Hungarian). Mediaworks Hungary owns 12 of the 19 regional dailies published in Hungary as well as the rights to the daily national newspaper Népszabadság, which Vienna Capital Partners stopped publishing on October 8, 2016 (see The Demise of People’s Freedom).
Purchase of Echo TV
Orbán’s Straw Man?
The opposition to the Fidesz-KDNP government has accused Mészáros as serving as a front man in charge of building a post-politics football-economic imperium for Prime Minister Orbán in his home village of Felcsút.
In April 2016, Jobbik President Gábor Vona asked Prime Minister Orbán during a session of the National Assembly: “Is Lőrinc Mészáros your straw man [stróman] or not?” Orbán answered: “I have never had a straw man of any kind, nor will I ever” (source in Hungarian).
Last updated: February 23, 2017.