Press: Malev privatisation nears

A new privatisation tender for Hungary’s state-owned airline Malev will be announced by the State Privatisation and Holding Company (APV) in two weeks, business daily Napi Gazdasag reported, citing unnamed sources.Negotiations with Malev’s unions and a reassessment of its assets are underway, Napi Gazdasag wrote.

The new tender will differ little from the previous one, the paper said, noting that a government decree from 2004 allowing the airline’s sale and outlining professional and financial issues is still in force. The previous tender stipulated the buyer would take over Malev’s debts and retain its function as a national carrier.

Napi Gazdasag estimated the tender would take three to four months.

APV scrapped the previous tender for Malev in August 2005 without declaring a winner because of “business, professional and employment considerations.” But industry insiders speculated the sale was called off after it became clear that Russia’s AiRUnion was the front runner, bidding through its Hungarian unit AirBridge. The government repeatedly denied afterward that the sale was scrapped because it could have placed Hungary’s national carrier with a Russian-controlled company.