Things are finally looking up for Latvian newspaper

  • 2010-10-20
  • Staff and wire reports

HOT OFF THE PRESS: Diena’s new controlling owner Viesturs Koziols is optmistic.

RIGA - If conditions in the market continue to improve, in a year’s time order could be restored at the media company Diena, the business portal was told by Viesturs Koziols, owner of controlling interest in the company.
“Things are going extremely well for the Diena media companies, much better than planned. The downturn has been halted, and revenue has increased. Income has increased from both advertising and sales. As with all printed press, a large part of revenue comes from advertising,” indicated Koziols.

He admits that “there is no doubt that there is business here; the only question is when it will start.” “Regardless of how hard we work, much depends on government decisions, for example concerning the revision of VAT rates for the press, as well as the state’s economic development in general,” said Koziols.
“However, we can see there is business here through the small growth which has already been seen - the numbers are starting to look better. Moreover, this is already the general trend, and not just limited growth over short periods,” said the businessman.

Koziols did not provide comment about the general strategy for the growth of the company, he merely indicated that he had faith in those who’re responsible for it, who have experience and knowledge of the media industry.
As reported, Koziols announced at the beginning of August that he had bought a 51 percent stake in the joint-stock media company Diena.

Koziols did not reveal how much he had paid for the shares. He said that the other 49 percent of “Diena” still belonged to the Rowland family.
Koziols said he had paid for the controlling interest in Diena with his own money.

The newspapers troubles started in October 2009 when editor-in-chief Dace Andersone announced her resignation, becoming the third chief editor to leave the paper in just two years. Latvia’s most prestigious paper also suffered a walk-out of many of its most prominent journalists after the new owners of the newspaper refused to reveal their identity. The publisher finally revealed that the company’s new owner was the Rowland family, led by David Rowland and his son Jonathan, real estate investors and investment managers from the UK.  The sale of the company and the turbulence in the editorial department had a devastating effect on subscriptions, which fell from nearly 27,000 to just over 18,000.

Diena’s plight continued in July this year after the newspapers chairman of the board, Aleksandrs Tralmaks announced his resignation. Tralmaks took control of Diena almost exactly one year after his company, “Nedela S.A.,” bought the newspaper from Swedish shareholder “Bonnier AB.” The papers significant difficulties in the past few years stemmed from the ill-fated purchase.

Diena was established in 1990. Currently Diena media group publishes both national and regional press, as well as magazines and books. The Diena enterprise includes the media companies Dienas mediji, Regionalaja Prese Diena and Dienas zurnali, as well as the firms Abonesanas centrs Diena, Dienas gramata, Biznesa atbalsta grupa Pre Prio, Poligrafijas grupa Mukusala and Mukusalas maja. Altogether 750 people are employed by the company, including 286 at Dienas Mediji, Regionalaja Prese Diena and Dienas zurnali.

Dienas mediji last year operated with losses of 2,240,192 lats, according to information from the Register of Enterprises provided by the company Lursoft. In 2008, the company’s losses were 1,430,594 lats