No matter how bad the results of media companies – and Polish newspapers and magazines are no exception to the global trend - the business continues to attract punters – with Grzegorz Hajdarowicz the latest to be seduced by the title press baron.
The journalist-turned-businessman is taking control of Rzeczpospolita, Poland’s leading business daily, by scooping up 51 per cent of paper’s holding company – Presspublica - in which the state treasury has the other 49 per cent.
Hajdarowicz bought the stake in a surprise transaction from Mecom (MEC:LSE), an international media company, for 80m zlotys ($29m), which said: “Mecom has taken the opportunity of an unsolicited proposal for its holding in Presspublica to sell this operation for cash on terms which it views as attractive, having regard to the trading outlook of Presspublica and a lack of alignment with Presspublica’s minority shareholder which Mecom believes may act as a constraint on the future development of the business.”
Rzeczpospolita has a daily circulation of about 140,000 copies, and is the country’s most influential business paper – complete with a salmon-coloured business section. The daily also has a right-wing editorial line, making it one of the leading opponents of the current centrist government of premier Donald Tusk, although the flailings of the opposition Law and Justice party have driven the editorial writers to distraction.
Hajdarowicz insists that he has no ideological aims, but some of Rzeczpospolita’s most prominent writers are already warning that they will jump ship if he tries to interfere with the paper’s politics.
Hajdarowicz, whose companies include a real estate developer, an investment fund, a film producer, and the publisher of two smaller magazines, insists that he is interested in making money, not in dabbling in the politics of his new papers.
A techno-enthusiast, he sees tablet computers as transforming the Polish media market. He hopes for synergies between Przekroj, his weekly with a circulation of about 40,000, and Uwazam Rze, a new conservative weekly put out by Presspublica with a circulation of
In a weekend interview with his new paper, Hajdarowicz says that the current moment, with the nascent tablet revolution, is “comparable to the moment when Gutenberg discovered print”.
The new owner is hoping that the treasury ministry sells him the remaining shares in the publisher – something that has been something of an anomaly in the Polish press market and has opened the paper to charges of being subject to political manipulation.
The transaction still needs to gain the approval of Polish competition authorities. But Hajdarowicz is planning ahead, preparing to repackage his new media group and eventually list it on the Warsaw Stock Exchange. As ever, the sector is not short of optimists.
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