Slovak financial group Penta is looking to extend its recent foray into Slovak media by buying Zoznam, the country's second most viewed web portal, local media reported on November 20.
Penta Investments has made Slovak Telekom (ST) an offer to purchase Zoznam.sk, public broadcaster RTVS reported. The bid was confirmed by the head of the National Property Fund (FNM) privatisation agency, Branislav Bacik.
However, Penta is unlikely to get everything its own way. The economy ministry will ask ST, in which the state holds a 49% stake, to decline the offer. The ministry is concerned that the sale of the web portal might affect the valuation of the state's stake, which it is in the midst of trying to sell.
Bratislava has previously said it hopes to get as much as €1bn for the stake, with the proceeds to be used to finance its budget gap. It hopes to push the sale through next year, but has been struggling to decide on the format. Deutsche Telekom holds the remaining 51% stake in ST and has the right of first refusal, but has not appeared keen thus far. Bratislava has advisors investigation the possibility of an IPO.
Penta, meanwhile, is looking to strengthen its controversial presence in the Slovak media market. So far this year it has bought leading publishing houses 7 Plus, Trend Holding and Petit Press - which is behind influential daily SME. The latter acquisition sparked a walkout by the editorial team. They have received huge public support in their campaign, which argues Penta is no financial investor, but seeks only political influence.
Zoznam.sk was established in 1997 and is one of the most popular portals in Slovakia, offering more than 40 online products including news server Topky.sk and specialised magazines Mojdom.sk, Dromedar.sk, oPeniazoch.sk and Autoviny.sk.