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.
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