Competition watchdog okays sale of LETA news agency to MM Grupp

The Competition Council has given the green light to acquisition of the news agency LETA by the Estonian company MM Grupp via the UP Invest holding, reported LETA Tuesday.

According to the Competition Council's decision taken on December 23, the acquisition deal will not impair competition in any way.

As reported, UP Invest subsidiary in Latvia Newsworks has been the owner of 99.66 percent shares in LETA since October 2015.

MM Grupp is the owner of the pan-Baltic news group BNS, but on August 31 last year, the BNS companies in Latvia - BNS-Latvija and Mediju Monitorings - were sold to another Estonian company, AMP Investeeringud, the Competition Council explained.

Furthermore, the business information portal Nozare.lv, which belongs to LETA, will not put disproportionate competitive pressure on MM Grupp's free online news portals Tvnet.lv, Apollo.lv, Financenet.lv, Sejas.lv and Spoki.lv, the Competition Council concluded.

According to the Competition Council, the merger deal will not have a significant impact on the overall operations of Latvian news portals as they will be able to continue to obtain news stories from two competing agencies - LETA and Latvian News Service (formerly BNS-Latvija), as well as from foreign news agencies, such as Reuters and Agence France Presse, and other sources.

MM Grupp controls 34 companies in the Baltic countries, of which thirteen operate in sale of pharmaceutical products, twelve are mass media - news agencies, online portals, newspapers etc., while the other companies are active in different sectors.

As reported, UP Invest announced acquisition of the LETA agency at the beginning of August 2015.

LETA provides news and business information solutions for organizations and companies. Among the agency's clients are the largest enterprises, media and state institutions and organizations, embassies, and international companies.

In 2014, LETA had 158 employees. The company's turnover reached EUR 3,087,968, and profit - EUR 9,714.

UP Invest is an investment company that has established several holding companies in media, retail, IT, and technology industries. The company's sole owner is Margus Linnamae.

Before the acquisition deal, the controlling interest of LETA belonged to Baltijas Informacijas Grupa, whose shares are owned equally by Agris Strautnieks, Martins Barkans, and Dyaltos Capital that is headed by Alvis Krasovskis.

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