Former Owners of Hungarian Radio Licenses Request International Arbitration on Anniversary of ExpropriationBy Emmis Communications Corporation Accession Mezzanine Capital, PRNE
Thursday, October 27, 2011
WASHINGTON, October 28, 2011 -
Emmis Communications Corporation (Nasdaq: EMMS) (www.emmis.com) has joined with Accession Mezzanine Capital (AMC) today in filing a request for arbitration at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) against the Republic of Hungary.
The claimants operated the two national commercial radio stations in Hungary, Sláger Rádió and Danubius Rádió, under licenses granted by the Hungarian broadcast regulator, ORTT. Two years ago on this date — October 28, 2009 — ORTT awarded these licenses to two Hungarian entities with close ties to the two largest Hungarian political parties.
This action was condemned at the time as corrupt political favoritism by the Ambassadors from nine of Hungary’s largest trading partner nations, the local and world press, and the U.S. Congress, among others. Sláger and Danubius won decisions in the Hungarian courts finding that ORTT violated Hungarian law, but these courts were unable to provide any effective remedy for the illegal actions.
In their ICSID filing, Emmis and AMC assert that the Republic of Hungary has violated its treaty obligations by expropriating private property without compensation and not extending fair and equitable treatment to non-Hungarian investors. A copy of the Request for Arbitration as filed with ICSID can be found at www.emmis.com/press/home.aspx.
ICSID is an international adjudicatory body operating under the authority of the World Bank. Countries that are parties to investment treaties customarily agree to submit disputes alleging a breach of treaty obligations to ICSID for binding arbitration. It is essentially the court of last recourse for disputes involving sovereign nations and foreign investors.
Emmis launched Sláger after being awarded the broadcasting license in 1997, while Danubius has been on air since July 1986. During their stewardships, both Emmis and AMC invested significant amounts in Hungary’s economy, provided employment to their all-Hungarian staffs, brought world-best practices to the local industry, and operated in a completely transparent and politically non-partisan manner. The Hungarian public responded quickly to the stations: Sláger and Danubius were consistently the top-rated stations in Hungary, reaching over 4 million listeners per week (out of a population of 10 million).
Emmis and AMC are represented in the arbitration by the Washington, D.C. office of Covington & Burling, LLP.
About Emmis Communications (Nasdaq: EMMS)
Emmis Communications Corporation is a diversified media company, principally focused on radio broadcasting. Emmis operates the 8th largest publicly traded radio portfolio in the United States based on total listeners. Emmis owns 18 FM and two AM radio stations in New York, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Austin (Emmis has a 50.1% controlling interest in Emmis’ radio stations located there), Indianapolis and Terre Haute, IN.
About Accession Mezzanine Capital
Accession Mezzanine Capital is the first dedicated mezzanine finance fund in Central and Eastern Europe backed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) as one of its biggest investors. AMC has invested EUR 115 million in 12 companies across the region.
Scott Enright of Emmis, +1-317-684-6565, scotte at emmis.com; Thomas Hechl on behalf of AMC, +43-1-532-8990, hechl at mezzmanagement.com
Tags: District of Columbia, Emmis Communications Corporation; Accession Mezzanine Capital, hungary, Indiana, October 28, Washington