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Billionaire Babiš buys strong Czech dailies, expanding his media empire

Andrej Babiš, deemed recently Forbes Magazine to be the richest Slovak with an estimated wealth worth €1.54 billion, bought the Czech dailies MF Dnes and Lidové noviny, which had a common shareholder with the Sme daily. Babiš did not buy Sme, however, the daily itself wrote.

Andrej Babiš, deemed recently Forbes Magazine to be the richest Slovak with an estimated wealth worth €1.54 billion, bought the Czech dailies MF Dnes and Lidové noviny, which had a common shareholder with the Sme daily. Babiš did not buy Sme, however, the daily itself wrote.

Babiš, who has political ambitions, also bought the Metro daily and the iDnes.cz website in the Czech Republic. His company Agrofert acquired all media of the Czech group Mafra, which was previously owned by the German group Rheinisch-Bergische Verlagsgesellschaft mbH (RBVG). RBVG also owns a 50-percent stake in Petit Press, which publishes Sme. “There was no change in the shareholder composition of Petit Press,” head of the publishing houses’ board Alexej Fulmek said. “Our shareholder is not Mafra, but the German publisher RBVG, and it owns 50 percent of the stakes to which the Slovak shareholder has the pre-emptive option.”

Details of the deal – which has still to be approved by the anti-trust office in the Czech city of Brno and in Vienna – had not been disclosed as of Wednesday, June 26. In April, Babiš purchased the Hospodárske Noviny economic daily when he bought the publisher, Ecopress, from Zdeněk Bakala. Andrej Babiš is a Bratislava native, but had lived in the Czech Republic for a long time. Through his company Agrofert, he is involved in business in chemicals, agriculture and the food industry. A year ago, Babiš registered a political movement, ANO 2011, in the Czech Republic. He is involved in a lawsuit with the Slovak Nation’s Memory Institute, claiming he was never an agent of the communist-era secret service ŠtB. He has only admitted that at the age of 28, he was in the ŠtB.

(Source: Sme, SITA)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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