Friday, July 03, 2009

Swedes pull out of Latvian print media

The Swedish Bonnier Group, pioneers in setting up business newspapers in the Baltics (Estonian Aripaev was set up before independence in 1989/?/), have sold the the Latvian daily Diena and the business daily Dienas bizness to a local company called Nedeļa, which is run by a former executive of Diena.
My quick take is that both papers (which have been losing money) were sold for a song in a move that basically takes Swedish investors out of the Latvian print media market. It is noteworthy that neither the Estonian business paper, nor the one in Lithuania were sold and remain among the subsidiary Bonnier Business Press priority investments.
It is also a significant signal that the owner of an authoritative business newspaper in Sweden, Dagens industri, is getting out of Latvia. If this is so, perhaps other Swedish investment may follow or at least slow down any plans to expand here. To my mind, regretably but rightly, the Swedes are labeling Latvia as the basket case of the Baltics and Eastern Europe.
On a personal note, I worked for Dienas bizness from 1995 to 2006 and enjoyed that time very much. It is sad to see the paper, developed under Swedish guidance and as part of a group of business newspapers owned by the Bonnier Group, is now cut loose and left on its own. Dienas bizness has been taking increasing desperate staff cuts and salary reductions as advertising revenues have declined.

Added later:
The buyer, Nedeļa, is owned by a Luxembourg finance company owned, in turn, by an Estonian entrepreneur Kalle Norberg and other private investors.
Casten Almquist, CEO of Bonnier Business Press, told this blogger that the sale was mutually advantageous, but the Swedish company, under present economic conditions, saw a somewhat greater potential for developing its assets in Estonia and Lithuania.
John Hedberg, a former Bonnier executive, who advised Nedeļa on the transaction, said that there would be no short-term changes at both publications. Measures to cut costs and restructure both businesses were showing some results, though one would have to wait and see how this played out in the medium to long term. He said Diena and Dienas bizness both were good brands with a good reputation


Mārcis said...

U.Pīlens does is, because he has a clear goal - to return to politics. He has been himself a board member of Tautas partija (Peoples party) form many years and had an opportunity to influence policies, which where carried out by TP prime minister and ministers.
As for your intentions, I am not sure, because if you are planning to run for Saeima, I understand you, but otherwise, I think it does not help anyone. You are playing out possibly worst scenarios and not suggesting any ideas of how to improve things. Of course, this is not a job for journalist, maybe, but I think that this attitude drives us even deeper and deeper into depression, and we may never get out.

Mr.Key said...

I agree to the 2nd paragraph in Mārcis comment. Also would like to ask a question - what is the goal of this blog? Yes, tought times here, but we need to work together to solve the difficulties and very likely enjoy life in rich and wonderful country Latvia after 10-20 years. With or without Sweedish investments - does not matter, thats us who live and work here and maybe hard times will motivate us much more than so called "investments". (RIMI? DressMan? Dienas Bizness was full of negative articles for last few years, and those positive ones were mostly PR.. there is only one way for them - to become better!)

Also my note to journalists - you are 4th power.. do not underestimate that.. most of people makes decisions based on whats written and told in the media..
(sry for bad English, could write in Latvian but hope some readers also sees that opinions are different).

Mr.Key said...

What applies to your addition - I would disagree that Diena and Dienas Bizness had good reputation. They reputation was dropping last years. There is other funny opionion about this by Lato Lapsa:

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Best wishes!