WAZ Assets Buyers Vow No Interference in Bulgaria Media Group Policy

Business | December 15, 2010, Wednesday // 16:10|  views

Photos by Sofia Photo Agency

Vienna-registered BG Privatinvest Ltd has acquired a majority stake in the publisher of the two wide-circulation Bulgarian Trud and 24 Hours newspapers, while the remainder is held by local businessmen Ognyan Donev and Lyubomir Pavlov.

This emerged on Wednesday during the first press conference of the new owners of WAZ Mediengruppe assets in Bulgaria, including newspapers and a printing house.

BG Privatinvest is controlled by Karl Habsburg, Daniel Rutz and Hristo Grozev. Austrian Karl Habsburg holds a 33-percent stake in the newly-established company. The new owners will hold 100% in WAZ Zeitungsgruppe Bulgarien (ZGB).

"The abbreviation WAZ is the only thing that will be dropped from the name of the holding and from now on it will be called Media Group Bulgaria," the new majority owners said.

"There will be no interference in the editorial policy of the media. There will be just more strict requirements as far as media ethics and double-checks of facts are concerned," Hristo Grozev said.

The price of the deal was not disclosed, but reports say it ranges from BGN 60 M to BGN 120 M.

The transaction includes Trud and 24 Hours daily newspapers, 168 Hours weekly newspaper, Trud weekly, a few magazines, eight regional newspapers, a printing house, distribution company Strela and ZGB's headquarters in downtown Sofia and across the country.

The Bulgarian partners of BG Privatinvest include Ognyan Donev, chairman and majority owner of Sopharma, the biggest Bulgarian generic drugmaker, and Lyubomir Pavlov, former chairman of the Sofia-based Municipal Bank. Even before the deal the two have been on good personal and professional terms since Pavlov holds a 16% stake in Sopharma via a financial consultancy.

"I am not a media expert, but the crisis is at its peak and this is good timing for investments," Donev told journalists.

The further development of the online editions of the newspapers will be among the top priorities of the new owners. No lay-offs have been planned.

The editors-in-chief of Trud and 24 Hours daily newspapers Tosho Toshev and Venelina Gocheva will keep their posts.

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Tags: Karl Habsburg, 24 Hours, Ognyan Donev, Lyubomir Pavlov, Daniel Rutz, Karl von Habsburg, Hristo Grozev, 168 Chasa, BG Privateinvest GmbH, WAZ, Bodo Hombach, Serbia, Trud, 24 chasa, newspapers, BG Privatinvest


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