Hungary: The issue of state aid used to acquire Matrai Eromu

, SEE Energy News

Matrai Eromu is the second largest electricity producer in Hungary. The opposition Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) said that it will turn to the European Commission the alleged case of using illegal state aid for the acquisition of Matrai Eromu.

MSZP Vice President Laszlo Szakacs said that the deal cost the state 217 million euros, including a shareholder loan of close to 14.5 million euros, a 75 million euros capital raise and the takeover of 75 million euros of debt, on top of the 50.7 million euros purchase price announced by the Government. Last December, holding company Opus Global said that it has signed a contract on the sale of its 72.66 % stake in Matrai Eromu to state-owned MVM. Opus informed its investors that during the future the company wants to put more focus on energy production from renewable resources, on electricity distribution networks and energy trading when expanding its portfolio. The Government declared the acquisition of Status Power Invest, which owns Matrai Eromu, by MVM a matter of national strategic significance, exempting the transaction from the scrutiny of antitrust authorities. The Government made this decision in the interest of the security of energy supply. Opus partnered with Czech company EPH to acquire the 72.66 % Matrai Eromu stake from German companies RWE and EnBW in the spring of 2018. Opus agreed to buy out its Czech partner’s stake in the power plant company days later.

Matrai Eromu operates five coal-fired units, built in the 1960s and 70s, and two gas turbines built in the 2000s. It has two open-pit lignite mines, in Visonta and in Bukkabrany, about 60 kilometers from the plant. The plant accounts for close to 14 % of Hungary’s electricity generation.