The publisher of a leading Estonian daily newspaper has acquired the popular Delfi group of Web portals, including Latvia’s delfi.lv, for EUR 54 million.
The Tallinn-based Ekspress Group announced the deal Aug. 8. The company, whose properties already include such media outlets as the Eesti Ekspress newspaper, is adding AS Delfi to its stable. Delfi runs seven Internet portals, including Estonian and Russian versions in Estonia, Latvian and Russian versions in Latvia, delfi.lt and centras.lt in Lithuania, and delfi.ua in Ukraine.
“This transaction will allow Ekspress Group to become the Baltic market leader in the most rapidly evolving sphere of business in Europe—online advertising—and to also gain a foothold in the Ukrainian market,” Hans H. Luik, the major shareholder of Ekspress Group, said in a press release.
Delfi began in November 1999, according to its Web site, combining elements of several other Web sites. In 2004, Delfi was acquired by the Swedish search engine company Findexa, which has been operating the portals through its Interinfo branch. The portals are among the most popular in their respective countries. Latvia delfi.lv, for example, during the fourth week of July boasted between 1.3 million and 1.6 million page views daily Monday through Friday, and about half that during the weekend.
Delfi this year is expected to generate profit of EUR 2.68 million on turnover of EUR 7.54 million. Ekpress Group said the portals also are expected to increase their turnover at a rate of 30 percent per year with profit margins of 35 percent to 40 percent.
The other big commercial Internet portals in Latvia are TVNET and Apollo.
Ekspress Group said it is financing the Delfi purchase from money raised from its recent public share offering and from a bank loan.
The Delfi deal still needs approval from the Estonian Competition Board.
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