Soros Boosts Investment in Polish Media Market With Paper Deal
(Bloomberg) -- A company backed by George Soros’s fund signed a preliminary agreement to buy a stake in the publisher of one of Poland’s leading newspapers.
The purchase of a 40% stake in Gremi Media, which owns the Rzeczpospolita daily, will be the third deal involving the billionaire philanthropist in the Polish media market in the last five years.
Soros, who has long championed democratic causes in the former communist eastern bloc, backs independent media that is coming under assault from nationalist and populist political forces.
According to a non-binding term sheet agreement disclosed on Friday, the stake in Gremi will be purchased by Amsterdam-based Pluralis BV. The company is owned by King Baudouin Foundation, Mediahuis NV and Media Development Investment Fund, according to Gremi’s chairman Grzegorz Hajdarowicz. The price wasn’t disclosed.
MDIF, which lists Soros’s Open Society Foundations among its funders, is an investor in Poland’s Radio Zet and the third-biggest shareholder in Agora SA, the publisher of Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper, which opposes the right-wing coalition that has governed Poland since 2015.
The ruling Law & Justice party has transformed public broadcasters into mouthpieces for it policies since coming to power. It recently failed in an attempt to force out Discovery Inc. as the owner of a local television unit. Last year state-controlled refiner PKN Orlen SA bought the country’s biggest publisher of regional newspapers.
“The situation on the Polish media market is becoming more and more difficult,” Hajdarowicz told Rzeczpospolita in an interview on Friday. “The pressure of politics is having an increasingly negative impact.”
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