Private equity group Penta to buy Czech newspaper company: Reuters

Private equity group Penta has agreed to buy a string of Czech newspapers from German media group Verlagsgruppe Passau, the latest in a series of deals that has shifted ownership of the country’s main print media to Czech and Slovak financial firms.

Penta said on Wednesday it would take sole ownership of Vltava-Labe-Press, which publishes regional papers Denik (Daily) with a daily print run of 140,000 and readership of 630,000.

Financial details of the transaction, including the price, were not released.

The country of 10.5 million people has four national newspapers and a top-selling tabloid that were owned by mainly German and Swiss groups. But in the past few years they have been acquired by Czech and Slovak businessmen.

A Penta spokesman said the firm saw potential in the media business in connection with its other investments in retail companies.
“Investment into media brings an interesting business opportunity, for example in advertising cross-selling,” he said.

Penta, founded by Marek Dospiva and Jaroslav Hascak, has investments ranging from real estate to the production of fighter jets. Firms under its management employ around 35,000 people.

Other Czech media deals have included the purchase of Mafra, which publishes two mainstream national dailies, in 2013 by billionaire Andrej Babis, who is the country’s finance minister, and the purchase of financial newspaper Hospodarske Noviny in 2008 by Zdenek Bakala, part owner of coal mining group New World Resources .

The top-selling tabloid Blesk was acquired in 2013 from Switzerland’s Ringier AG by the media group of Daniel Kretinsky and Patrik Tkac, who together hold a stake in Czech energy group EPH.