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Lithuania's biggest publisher Lietuvos rytas is dropping smaller titles to focus its attention on core publications, internet content, and its young TV business. February was the last month for the company's two minor titles, general-interest weekly Ekstra and young female adolescent's monthly Ekstra mergina. Lietuvos rytas has declared that its new strategy is to develop products that are already or show prospects for becoming market leaders. These are the namesake daily and internet news portal, Moters savaite women's weekly as well as Lietuvos rytas TV and the publishing house.

Earlier the company closed a women's and a consumer IT monthlies, and before that it exited from two joint projects with Norwegian Schibsted: L.T. tabloid (now also closed) and 15 min. free daily (now owned 100% by the Norwegian firm). Lietuvos rytas' publishing revenues fell by 37% last year to LTL 42m, while printing turnover decreased by 32% to LTL 82m. Russian-owned Snoras bank indirectly holds the biggest majority stake in the firm, 34%.

The investment Company


The investment company BaltCap finally finalized the acquisition of the directory service Ekspress Hotline from the Tallinn -listed media company Ekspress Grupp, nearly 10 months after the deal was announced. The new owner is likely to keep the service as it is in near future, not merging it with the similarly profiled company Interinfo.
As the consolidated market share of Ekspress Hotline and Interinfo in pay-per-minute phone information services in Estonia exceeds 80%, the deal signed last spring (see no 273 page 9) needed approval from the competition board Konkurentsiamet. Still, while the approval arrived already last autumn, signing the final agreement took another couple of months.
No wonder, though, as the final deal is different from the original one. Originally, BaltCap agreed to pay EUR 6.2m, two thirds of the total sum now and one third after five years. Now the sum was cut by EUR 0.7m, but BaltCap has to pay all at once.
"In general, the deal is about the same, if one considers the discount value over five years. These terms suited better for both us and the seller," says Kristjan Kalda, investment manager at BaltCap to news2biz. Receiving all the cash According to Mr Kalda, BaltCap is not going to merge Ekspress Hotline with Interinfo, the pan-Baltic company it acquired from the US-based fund Texas Pacific in 2008 (see no 249 page 9). "We also do not plan any radical changes in Ekspress Hotline," he adds. "We consider this acquisition a rather fine supplement to our portfolio."
"Our ambition is to be the leading enterprise in the sector of guiding media in all three Baltic states," says Mr Kalda. "With that aim in mind, we plan to expand both services by adding more features, but also to implement some features of one service to the other, and vice versa." BaltCap, the investment company owned by five partners since 2007 (see no 243 page 3), has launched five funds in the Baltics with the equity totalling at EUR 130m. The two first funds are fully exited, another two are running, and the newest and also the largest (EUR 58m) fund -BaltCap Private Equity Fund - is currently in the investment phase. Besides directory services, the company's investments include several manufacturing enterprises, Latvian DIY-chain Depo, pan-Baltic machinery trader Intrac, Estonian lab services provider Quattromed, etc.


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