Bulgaria’s Nova Broadcasting Group expands online portfolio with DarikNet acquisition

Nova Broadcasting Group said on August 6 that it acquired 70 per cent in DarikNet, in a deal expected to turn it into Bulgaria’s largest digital media company.

The acquisition is expected to be finalised by the end of September and is subject to regulatory approval from Bulgaria’s Commission on Protection of Competition, the company said in a statement.

“This acquisition completely changes Nova Broadcasting Group. With this step, which is part of our strategy to offer innovative solutions to our customers, we will have great opportunities to reach the audience in the digital space,” Nova Broadcasting Group chief executive Didier Stoessel said.

In a separate statement, Nova Broadcasting Group’s parent company, Modern Times Group (MTG), said that it had the option to buy the remaining 30 per cent in DarikNet in the next five years. MTG did not disclose the price paid, saying only that it was “an undisclosed cash consideration on a cash and debt free basis”.

Nova Broadcasting Group’s main assets until now have been in television – its assets include free-to-air Nova TV along with cable channels Kino Nova, Nova Sport, Diema and Diema Family; MTG’s cable channels TV1000, Viasat History, Viasat Nature and Viasat Explorer are also available in Bulgaria.

Nova Broadcasting Group’s biggest online ventures so far have been news website Novanews.bg and video on-demand site NovaPlay, both as digital extensions of its flagship TV channel.

DarikNet is the online arm of a media group that also includes one of Bulgaria’s oldest radio stations, Darik. In April, DarikNet agreed to buy Bulgaria’s largest online media group, NetInfo, from Sanoma, for a reported 12 million euro, against competition that reportedly also included Nova Broadcasting Group.

The country’s competition regulator is yet to rule on the proposed merger of DarikNet and NetInfo.

NetInfo’s portfolio includes news site Vesti.bg, popular video-sharing platform Vbox7 and free e-mail provider abv.bg. Darik itself owns one of Bulgaria’s most-visited news websites.

Together, DarikNet and NetInfo have a broad range of services across 33 advertising-funded sites, and comprise the market-leading digital conglomerate in Bulgaria in terms of monthly online reach, generating more than 750 million monthly page views during the second quarter of 2013, MTG said.



The Sofia Globe staff

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