Ex Hungary PM becomes Meridiam COO

Gordon Bajnai, Hungary’s Prime Minister between 2009 and 2010, has joined Paris-based fund manager Meridiam Infrastructure as group chief operating officer.

Gordon Bajnai, who has been a member of Meridiam Infrastructure’s supervisory board since 2011, has become the Paris-based fund manager’s group chief operating officer.

A statement said that Bajnai, based in the firm’s Paris headquarters, would be “working closely” with Thierry Deau, Meridiam’s founder and chief executive officer. He will oversee asset management activities and direct business development functions.

A Hungarian national, Bajnai is an economist and businessman who between April 2009 and May 2010 served as his country’s Prime Minister. His was a technocratic government which had the task of stabilising the country during a severe financial and political crisis.

Bajnai had previously held positions at the Ministry of National Development and Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Local Government. Also, as head of the National Development Agency, he had responsibility for a seven-year €25 billion public investment programme sponsored by the European Union’s structural funds.

His business career included five years as chief executive officer of Wallis Group, the Hungarian investment company, between 2000 and 2005. In a prior five-year spell, between 1995 and 2000, he was managing director and deputy chief executive officer of Creditanstalt Investment Bank in Budapest.

He was also chairman of Budapest Airport on behalf of UK airport operator BAA and has had spells with liqueur and spirits firm Zwack Unicum, broadcaster Danubius Radio, automotive firm Raba and Equinox Private Equity Fund.

“Gordon will bring valuable first-hand experience on the importance of infrastructure as a vector for stable and sustainable economic development,” said Jane Garvey, chairman of Meridiam North America, in a statement.

Speaking at Infrastructure Investor’s Berlin Summit in 2012, Bajnai highlighted political risk as the biggest risk in infrastructure and pointed out the difficulty of reconciling the long-term nature of infrastructure programmes with relatively much shorter electoral cycles.