TALLINN - Delfi, one of the most popular Internet portals in the Baltics, could be sold to Findexa, a Norwegian media and information company, for about 6 million euros, Estonia's largest daily Postimees reported Oct.27.
Microlink, one of the biggest names on the Baltic telecommunication market and owner of Delfi, confirmed that a number of companies were interested in buying the portal.
Marketing and communications manager Juri Kaljundi said the company planned to focus on IT services and that selling Delfi for the right price made sense.
Microlink, which posted sales of 57 million euros last year, launched the Delfi news and catalogue portals – available in Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian and Russian – in 1999, and it quickly became popular among readers for being the first online news source in the three countries providing the option of leaving comments to all published texts.
Still, the project has been unable to bring profit despite strong development over the past four years.
"Delfi stands separately in the Microlink structure. It is not an IT company but a media company," Kaljundi said, adding that "nothing terrible" would happen if Delfi remained under the Microlink umbrella for several years to come.
Mega and XXL, two other Internet portals launched in Estonia simultaneously with Delfi before the global dot.com bubble burst, went bankrupt in 2001.
"We are not selling Delfi because of some crisis. Companies interested in the portal have visited us every now and then in the last several years," added Kaljundi.
Microlink also recently sold its computer-assembly branch to an Estonian investor.
Findexa representatives declin-ed to comment on the possible purchase of Delfi but referred to the possible investment as promising. Findexa has a branch in Estonia that publishes phonebooks.
The Postimees reported that Eniro, Findexa's competitor on the Scandinavian market also having a branch in Estonia, snatched a 76 percent stake in Scandinavian Online that owned portals in Northern Europe for over 50 million euros.
Findexa was reportedly interested in buying the stake.
Delfi occupies the third position in the top five of most popular Estonian Web sites with about 101,000 unique visitors per day, according to the pollster TNS Emor. Neti.ee search engine and catalogue is the most popular one with 177,000 visitors per day, followed by the Everyday portal that boats about 108,000 daily visitors.
Hot.ee mail and entertainment portal and Hansabank's online bank Web site Hanza.net close the top five list with 79,000 and 67,000 visitors per day respectively.
According to Microlink's annual report, the company's last financial year ended with a net profit of about 100,000 euros with consolidated sales of about 57.2 million euros.