BUDAPEST, 10 DECEMBER 1999 — Universal Music has increased its stake in Hungary’s largest record company, Universal Music Hungary, from 51 to 100 per cent after acquiring the remaining equity from its joint venture partner Harmony Management. Universal Music Hungary founder and managing director Laszlo Hegedus will continue to run the company.

Universal Music Hungary is the oldest of Universal’s five Eastern European subsidiaries, having been in operation since 1993 (the other four Universal companies are in Czechia, Poland, Russia and Slovakia). According to local industry association MAHASZ, the company was the market leader in Hungary in 1998, the third year in a row it has held the largest market share.

The company currently has six out of the current top 20 albums in Hungary including the number one spot with top-selling artists Irigy Honalj Mirigy (Envious Armpit Glands) and their Selejtez album (Qualifying) which has now spent five consecutive weeks at number one. Bon Bon are at number six with My Name is Bon and Zoran is at number eight with Az ablak mellet (By The Window). Sting’s Brand New Day is currently at number 11, the Notting Hill Soundtrack at number 12 and Shygys with Vgyom Rd (Longing For You) are at number 15. Texas were recently at number one in the Hungarian singles chart with Summer Son.

Jorgen Larsen, chairman and CEO of Universal Music International said: “Our Hungarian company is going from strength to strength with a healthy balance of domestic and international success. We are fortunate in being able to have the best of both worlds: 100 percent ownership and a continued association with Laszlo Hegedus and his successful team.”

Thomas Hedstrom, vice president of Eastern Europe at Universal Music International said: “Laszlo has built a top quality team at Universal Music Hungary and we*re very happy to be taking full control of the company under his continued leadership. He has built the company into Hungary’s number one with a strong local roster and excellent marketing of international releases and I look forward to building on those strengths in the future.”

Hegedus said: “Having the world’s leading record company increase its commitment to our company and to the Hungarian market in general is a tremendously positive move that will greatly benefit our artists and everyone connected with Hungarian music.”

According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the Hungarian music market was valued at $55 million at retail in 1998 with CD sales increasing six per cent over 1997. Universal Music Hungary was established in 1993 as PolyGram Hungary, building on the assets of the Harmony Management-backed Zebra record label which was founded by Hegedus in Budapest in 1989. As well as currently successful artists such as Irigy Honalj Mirigy, Bon Bon, Zoran and the Shygys, the company’s 30-strong roster of local stars includes the recently signed platinum-selling Kozmix who have been the Hungary’s top-selling pop band of the 1990s.

International Universal releases which have enjoyed success in Hungary in 1999 include albums from Shania Twain, Tarkan and Andrea Bocelli as well as Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance, Pavarotti & Friends the currently successful Notting Hill Soundtrack and Sting’s Brand New Day album.