Lőrinc Mészáros is a former gas fitter who became mayor of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s hometown Felcsút in 2011. His companies have been winning public tenders in a row since the so-called G-day when the friendship and alliance between PM Orbán and biggest government oligarch Lajos Simicska broke up. Mészáros’s wealth has risen from 23 billion (EUR 75M) to 120 billion HUF (385M EUR) in only 12 months last year. According to index.hu, his fortune is bigger now than former Hungarian noble families’ like Habsburgs were 90 years ago.
Lőrinc Mészáros was born in 1966 in Székesfehérvár. He started his career in the early 90’s installing gas in Felcsút and the neighbouring villages. His company grew considerably; however, they nearly became bankrupt in 2007. Later PM then just opposition leader Viktor Orbán helped him out. He offered him the presidency of his newly found football academy in Felcsút.
After Orbán started to govern following his landslide victory in 2010 parliamentary elections, Mészáros began to expand.
His secret was simple: being close a close friend to the Prime Minister and therefore, winning public tenders.
Mészáros’s name became well-known in Hungary after the so-called G-day. On 6th February 2015, the friendship and alliance between PM Orbán and then biggest government oligarch Lajos Simicska’s friendship and alliance broke up. Since then the Mészáros-empire has been growing unstoppably. According to some calculations,
his companies won 225 billion HUF (EUR 716M) on public tenders just in 2016.
Whereas Orbán’s new oligarch had only 6.9 billion HUF (EUR 22M) in 2013, he started 2017 with a 120 billion HUF (EUR 382M) fortune. Though in 2010 he had only one company, he has more than 100 now and the number is ever increasing.
‘Maybe I’m smarter than Mark Zuckerberg’
– said Mészáros to reporters asking about his fabulous enrichment this February.
Altogether, the Mészáros-empire is worth 260 million EUR based on calculations of boell.de. The empire consists of all the Hungarian regional newspapers, many radios, construction and energy companies, tourist agencies alongside some agricultural and real estate firms and even a television.
In fact, the mortar of the empire is money won on public tenders. Therefore,
many say that Mészáros is just the strawman of PM Orbán
and his money belongs to him in reality. Undoubtedly, all Mészáros-media serve the government without the shadow of any criticism.
Thus, it is not surprising that biggest opposition party Jobbik placed a plastic figure depicting Mészáros in front of the ordinary sitting place of the PM in the Parliament. In addition, they launched a billboard campaign saying ‘They steal. We take it back’ depicting PM Orbán and Mészáros together.
According to calculations of Átlátszó, Mészáros’s fortune equals the fortune of Habsburg or Festetics families between the two world wars. Experts conducted a research regarding the oligarch’s wealth using two methods. The first one is the so-called Big Mac price index system. The other one takes into consideration even amortization thus, it gives relatively higher sums. According to the latter method, the value of one Hungarian Pengő (the currency used during Horthy-era) equals 1,093 HUF (approx. 3 EUR) today.
The figure below shows a horrifying difference between the three families and Lőrinc Mészáros. According to the estimates,
Mészáros-fortune is 2.6 times more than the altogether wealth of the three rischest families 90 years ago.
However, these calculations might be misleading since at the beginning of the 20th century GDP was only today’s third. Thus, spendable income remaining in purse after paying for accommodation, overhead and food is much more today. Clearly, this stands true even for poorer social classes.
As a result, we should compare the Bill Gates-Henry Ford multiplier to the Mészáros-Festetics one. According to the experts, results would be the same. However, the main difference is how these people acquired their fortune. In fact,
Mészáros started from zero and became one of the biggest Hungarian entrepreneurs in only a couple of years with the help of the political leadership of the country.
Source: index.hu, boell.de, Daily News Hungary