Vienna Stock Exchange Ups Stake in Budapest Stock Exchange to 37.7%

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Vienna Stock Exchange Ups Stake in Budapest Stock Exchange to 37.7%

Wiener Börse AG, the exchange operating the Vienna Stock Exchange, announced on Thursday that it will buy an additional 25.2% stake in the Budapest Stock Exchange (BSE), from UniCredit Bank Hungary Zrt., by which its holding in the Budapest bourse will grow to 37.7%. The transaction is subject to approval of the relevant authorities, Portfolio.hu reported.

The 25.2% package got to UniCredit via the acquisition of HVB Bank, which was a member of a consortium that obtained a majority stake in the BSE in 2004.

The Austrian consortium currently holds a 68.8% stake in the Budapest bourse, which breaks down as follows: Oesterreichische Kontrollbank AG 12.5%, Raiffeisen Zentralbank Österreich AG 6.4%, Erste 12.22% (Erste Group Bank AG 6.37%, and Erste Befektesi 5.85 %).

The deal is a mere rearrangement of holdings within the consortium that has not purchased further stakes in the BSE.

“We believe in the Hungarian capital market and the acquisition of this stake is an expression of our commitment. In addition, the more simplified structure of the decision makers within the Budapest Stock Exchange will make it possible to implement future activities more swiftly," said Michael Buhl, CEO of the Vienna Stock Exchange and member of the Board of Directors of the Budapest Stock Exchange.

“Smoothening out the decision making process can also mean that Vienna will pay more attention to what is happening on the BSE," Buhl told Hungarian news portal index.hu in an interview last October.

“I sometimes have the feeling that the management of the BSE may be hesitating a wee too much. Some things may be done faster, but all I can do is to point out for them a few advantages we are already enjoying," he added.

At that time Buhl supported the recurring notion to maintain the independence of the BSE, but when it came to the MOL-OMV bout he said the weight of trade in the Hungarian oil papers waned lately. “[...] while MOL does play a highly important role in the turnover of the BSE, we shouldn't forget that over 40% of the company is held by MOL itself or parked at friendly institutions and another 20% is owned by OMV. This means that the actual volume of free-floating shares is strongly limited."

Meanwhile, the free float of Hungary's biggest bank OTP has also dropped, owing to old-new investors acquiring an over 10% stake in the bank.

And these two giants turned in a joint letter to Vienna, putting a defending arm around the shoulders of BSE Chairman Attila Szalay-Berzeviczy, who was rumored to be on the brink of being fired by the Austrians.

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