Estonian entrepreneurs investing in Latvian media

Diena and associated publications.
Diena and associated publications. Source: ERR

Estonian entrepreneurs have been investing in Latvia's media sector, with one purchasing a majority stake in that country's leading daily, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Thursday.

Mait Laidvee, whose main area of business is in the forestry sector, has bought a majority stake in the company which publishes Diena, Latvia's largest daily newspaper (Diena literally means "day" - ed.), with a view to developing its online presence and portals.

Laidvee said of the development that: "[Diena editor-in-chief] Gatis Madžinš and I are both involved in triathlons. We have competed and trained together in the same group, so this started to progress quietly. Since the summer, it has become more concrete."

"I have taken on this project purely as a strategic investor. I will certainly not be interfering in the daily press," Laidvee, who purchased a 52-percent stake from former TV hose Edgars Kots, added.

Diena has the higher readership of Latvia's two main dailies, though over a decade ago, most of its top journalists quit the publication over what they saw as its questionable ownership at the time – going on to found independent weekly Ir.

Diena, meanwhile, has been operating at a loss, as Laidvee readily admits; despite his lack of experience in media, his investment was Diena's own idea.

Madžinš said: "We value ourselves quite highly, and our role in the life of Latvia is not small.

"What we have been lacking so far, however, is money and opportunities to develop the online environment. We have the only economic portal and daily news environment of its kind in Latvia.

"Mait Laidvee's wish as investor is to develop online products in particular," he added.

Laidvee's holding also includes associated magazine supplements published under the same umbrella; Kots and Madžinš retain a 24 percent stake each.

Another businessperson active in the Latvian media market is Anastasija Udalova, partner of freight rail entrepreneur Oleg Ossinovski (father of Social Democrat MP Jevgeni – ed.), AK reported.

She now owns Mediju Namsi (English: Media House), which publishes Diena's competitor, online publication


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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