Bloomberg News

Serbian Media Groups, Top Party Challenge WAZ Sale of Politika

July 18, 2012

Serbian media groups and the biggest political party demanded an investigation into the sale of Politika Novine i Magazini DOO, the country’s oldest newspaper, following reports that Germany’s WAZ Mediengruppe divested its stake.

Two Serbian journalist associations and the Serbian Progessive Party of President Tomislav Nikolic questioned the legality of the sale of a 50 percent stake to Moscow-based OOO East Media Group. The ownership change was published on the Serbian Business Registers Agency’s website yesterday.

They want the new government, due to be formed next week with the participation of the Progressives, to investigate the sale, and said that businesses close to former Serbian President Boris Tadic’s Democratic Party were behind the transaction.

“It’s an absolute violation of regulations that the publisher of our oldest and most respected daily newspaper gets a new owner so suddenly, practically overnight,” Nebojsa Stefanovic, the Progressives’ vice-president, told reporters in Belgrade today.

Earlier this year, WAZ offered Politika AD (PLTK), the state- controlled publisher that owns 50 percent of the newspaper unit, to buy back the stake, as the German company decided to pull out of operations in southeast Europe, Dragan Bujosevic, chief editor of Politika newspaper, said in a phone interview today. The sale fell through after Politika AD wanted more details, he said.

“We sold the stake to East Media Group in accordance with all legal requirements,” WAZ spokeswoman Simone Bellingroer said in an e-mailed statement, declining to comment on criticism regarding the transparency of the deal.

To contact the reporter on this story: Misha Savic in Belgrade at msavic2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net


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