Poland blocks takeover of media group Eurozet by peer Agora

Poland’s anti-monopoly watchdog UOKiK blocked the takeover of media group Eurozet by one of Poland’s largest media companies, the Warsaw-listed Agora, UOKiK said on January 7. The decision was strongly criticised by Agora, which is the publisher of opposition daily Gazeta Wyborcza.

The takeover would have led to the creation of a duopoly of Poland’s two main radio companies – Eurozet and RMF FM – which would have a market share of 70%, UOKiK said. That could limit competition in radio advertising and radio broadcasting markets, it added.

Eurozet runs five radio stations in Poland, including the flagship Radio Zet, a number of websites, as well as an advertising company and an event marketing service. Agora owns Gazeta Wyborcza and several radio stations and offers advertising and marketing services.

“The activity of both capital groups overlaps mainly in the field of radio broadcasting, selling advertising and brokerage in selling advertising time on the radio,” UOKiK said.

The watchdog also said the takeover of Eurozet by Agora would lead to a monopoly on some local radio markets.

Agora said in a statement that the decision to stop the transaction was an “embarrassment” for UOKiK and was made in “violation of legal regulations and administrative procedures”. The company said that UOKiK overestimated the impact of the takeover on the advertising market.

Agora currently has a 40% stake in Eurozet with the majority owned by the Czech company SFS Ventures, which is minority-owned by Salvatorska Ventures which in turn is part of the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) that is supported by billionaire philanthropist George Soros.

Earlier speculation about the future of Eurozet included its takeover by Fratria, a Polish media group linked to the incumbent government led by the rightwing Law and Justice (PiS) party.

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