In the course of the deal, Kauppalehti purchased, at an undisclosed price, shares from several owners, representing local and international interest in BNS, the leading of those being the Swedish Dagens Industri business daily and the Direkt business news agency. Fifteen percent of BNS remains in the hands of the U.S.-based Bridge-Telerate.
"If someone wants to play a big game and make an investment, we are a good bite," BNS Board Chairman George Shabad told The Baltic Times. "BNS has a very good market position in the Baltic states. It's a growing structure which is profitable and transparent - since 1996 BNS has had Swedish co-owners," Shabad stressed.
After the purchase, BNS became part of the Alma Media Business Information Group (BIG), which comprises the business information divisions of Alma Media, such as Kauppalehti and Balance Consulting. In 2000, BIG reported revenues of 252 million Finnish markkaa ($37.16 million). Alma Media is listed on the Helsinki Stock Exchange, and reported revenues for 2000 of 2.9 billion Finnish markkaa.
Purchasing the majority stake in BNS is part of the international strategy of Alma Media, said Kari Vaisanen, the international business manager of BIG. The agency is in good shape and represents a solid basis for developing new projects in the region, he stressed.
"Their target is to build something new using us as a skeleton," Shabad noted.
BNS reported revenues of 61 million Estonian kroons ($3.4 million) in 2000 and has been profitable for the past three years.
BNS will continue its operations as the leading local information vendor for media and businesses in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, Shabad said.
"Our target group is information professionals - media, politicians, business people, finance sector employees and research organizations," he noted.
Baltic News Service started operations in 1990 and turned into the leading news agency in the Baltic states. BNS supplys around 1,000 clients in and outside the Baltics with news and other information in five languages.