TALLINN - Alma Media, the Finnish media group, last week acquired a leading Internet sales outfit in Estonia, while the competition board said it was looking into whether the recent purchase of Alma by a Norwegian media group violated the country's anti-monopoly regulations.
Alma, which owns Baltic News Service, acquired the entire capital of Kinnisvaraportaal AS, which in turn controls City24.ee, a top Internet sales service. Alma said in a press release that it bought Kinnisvara-portaal, which has annual sales of 300,000 euros, from Intergate and three real estate agents who set up the service in 2000. More than 40,000 visitors use the service weekly, which functions in Estonian, Russian, Finnish and English.
"The purchase of City24.ee fits in perfectly with Alma Media's strategy. We are the market leader in Finland in our chosen sectors, and the natural next step is expanding into neighboring areas," said Raimo Makela, president of Alma Media Interactive Oy.
Meanwhile, the competition board said it was inquiring whether Schibsted ASA, a Norwegian media group, would have a dominating influence in the Estonian media after its acquisition of Alma Media at the end of December. Schibsted has effective control over the media group Eesti Meedia, Kanal2 television, Inpoc Baltics and OU Scanpix Baltics. Aini Proos, deputy director general of the competition board, told BNS last week that the board was studying the acquisition based on how other countries ruled on similar mergers.
Schibsted announced two weeks ago its offer to buy shares and options on shares in Alma Media effective from Jan. 4. Unless extended or terminated, the offer is valid until Jan. 31 and is conditional on whether Schibsted manages to acquire more than one-third of Alma. Schibsted currently owns 2 percent of the Finnish group.