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Bankers in power fail to hang together

The administration of George W Bush is well known for being awash with former petroleum industry executives. That's fitting, some say, for a country that slurps up more oil than any other. So perhaps it is appropriate that one of the most overbanked countries in Europe - Hungary - should get a banker as its new prime minister.

Sworn in on May 27 at the head of a Socialist-led coalition cabinet, 59-year-old Peter Medgyessy was from 1990 to 1994 the head of the local office of Paribas, and then Inter-Europa Bank from 1998.

Between these jobs he was finance minister, a job he also held when the Hungarian Socialist Party was still called the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party. A model technocrat, he is not even a member of the party he now leads in government, having been fielded as a compromise candidate against an incumbent many thought invincible. Medgyessy's economic czar is Csaba Laszlo, 39, who until recently was deputy CEO of K&H Bank, co-owned by Belgium's KBC and the Netherlands' ABN Amro.

Being strongly committed to a pro-growth strategy, the two men are unlikely to disturb a banking market so glutted that some local corporates get better financing terms than their peers in western Europe.

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