by Luca Pete / Atlatszo.hu
Since 2002, the total wealth of the 100 richest Hungarians has increased twelve times, exceeding HUF 7,500 billion. Lőrinc Mészáros remains the richest man in the country, with an estimated wealth of HUF 660 billion. The list is headed by Sándor Csányi and Zsolt Felcsuti. Viktor Orbán remains the most influential man in the country, but Katalin Novák has dropped sharply in the influence barometer.
This article was originally published on english.atlatszo.hu.
The 100 richest Hungarians list, edited by Péter Szakonyi, was published for the 12th time this year. In 2002 the list was featured in Magyar Hírlap, later in Manager Magazin, Napi Gazdaság, and napi.hu. Since 2019 Perche Kft. has been publishing the list in their annual publication ’The 100 Richest Hungarians’.
The front-runners are almost the same
Lőrinc Mészáros, a friend of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, won the title of Hungary’s richest man for the first time in 2021. His estimated wealth of HUF 455 billion at the time was increased by a further HUF 205 billion, enabling him to retain the top position in 2023. Last year, the group’s expansion continued: a motorway concession contract, acquisitions in the agricultural and food industries, the purchase of an energy trading company, the acquisition of a security company, and expansion in the hotel industry abroad, the publication says.
Sándor Csányi was in the top position until 2020 but came second with HUF 610 billion. There is no reason to be sad, as his wealth is estimated to have increased by nearly HUF 200 billion in a year. Zsolt Felcsuti is third on the podium with an estimated HUF 460 billion.
In 2023, Ferenc Kis-Szölgyémi made an outstanding increase, moving up 21 positions from 71st last year to 50th. Roland Lugos moved up 19 positions, while Ákos Balogh, István Bárdi and Viktor Bárdi, Gellért Jászai, and István Tiborcz also jumped more than 10 places.
Mária Schmidt’s wealth fell from an estimated 63 billion forints last year to 43 billion forints in 2023, so she dropped the most places in this year’s list (22 positions). József Vida, who is currently ranked 98th, József Váradi, Dávid Tibor, Ferenc Darvas Darvas, and József Boros also dropped a lot. Lajos Simicska has been part of the list of the 100 richest Hungarians since 2015, but his wealth plummeted significantly in 2022 and he has since disappeared from the list completely.
Twelve times richer
The total assets of the 100 richest Hungarians at the beginning of the publication, in 2002, amounted to HUF 632.4 billion. A substantial part of this year’s top list was already present then: the wealth of Sándor Csányi amounted to HUF 15 billion, while the names on the 2023 list contributed a total of HUF 201.2 billion to the total wealth in 2002, and other economic players HUF 416.2 billion. At that time, Zsolt Felcsuti and Lőrinc Mészáros were not even among the 100 richest Hungarians.
Zsolt Felcsuti was first on the list in 2003, with HUF 9 billion. The wealth of Lőrinc Mészáros first reached the point of making the list in 2014, when he had HUF 7.7 billion. By 2006, this year’s top 100 had already accounted for half of the total wealth of the 100 richest, and by 2012 they had surpassed that. This year, the total wealth of the top 100 reached HUF 7655.2 billion, meaning that the wealth of the richest Hungarians has increased twelvefold in almost ten years.
Viktor Orbán as the most influential, Katalin Novák falls on the list
In the past year several of the most influential politicians have suddenly disappeared from leading positions, and opposition politicians, who have made the list in small numbers, have lost further political influence.
The ranking principle of this year’s list, which is in its tenth edition, is to measure the ability of the political-economic elite to mobilise money or other resources of power to achieve their goals.
The list is heavily dominated by pro-government politicians, as well as big businessmen and relatives close to the government. The list as a whole continues to be characterised by a high proportion of political and politically connected economic players.
Fifteen names from the list of the 100 richest Hungarians also appear in the Influence Barometer. Since the list’s introduction in 2014, Viktor Orbán and Sándor Csányi have occupied the top two places on the podium. Analysts who compile the list traditionally give the third place to the most powerful person closest to the head of government. Between 2018 and 2022, this person was Lőrinc Mészáros, but this year Antal Rogán, head of the Prime Minister’s Office, took Mészáros’ place.
Among the top ten most influential figures, the paper mentions Sándor Pintér, Minister of the Interior, Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Zsolt Hernádi, CEO of Mol and Mihály Varga, Minister of Finance. It is striking that after last year’s first female top-ranking (10th), Katalin Novák, her influence has suddenly declined. With a drop of nine places, she barely made it into the top 20.
A quarter of the list is made up of new players, for example, in 2023, Hungarian-born American businessman George Soros was ranked 22nd in the Influence Barometer for the first time. But newcomers include Judit Varga, Minister of Justice, István Nagy, Minister of Agriculture, and Zsolt Barna, Chairman and CEO of Magyar Bankholding.
Written and translated by Luca Pete. More detailed Hungarian version of this story can be found here.