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Thursday, June 30, 2022

Slovakia: Soros Fund takes over a piece of the media pie

By Marcell Dengi

The Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) founded by George Soros is growing in the Slovak media industry. Since its inception in 1996, the MDIF has invested $ 250 million in media. In order to gain a strong position among the Slovak media, the fund bought some assets from the controversial PENTA Investment Group. The latter is by illegal scandals and accusations Business-ge-ba-lored noticed.

The MDIF takeover concerns shares in Petit Press, the second largest Slovak company in the sector and owner of the left-wing newspaper SME , the country’s most widely read newspaper. Hungarian correspondents believe the takeover is intended to aid the local center-left coalition in the upcoming elections. It should be noted that the PENTA Group continues to own News and Media Holding, which owns the only Hungarian-language daily newspaper in Slovakia, “Új szó”.

As a reminder, a fund historically linked to George Soros now owns more than a third of Slovakia’s second largest media empire, responsible for 35 different platforms. At the same time, Petit Press bought the remaining 5.5% of the shares from PENTA. The other shares are in the hands of the “First Slovak Investment Group”, PSIS, which has been supporting left-wing media since it was founded. PENTA did not explain why they were selling, but simply said that they “received a favorable offer”. With the change of ownership, new members join the management of Petit Press: Jim Eagan, formerly with the BBC, and Marie Nemcova, from MDIF.

MDIF also owns 18.9% of the company that owns “magyarnarancs.hu”, a Hungarian left-wing website, and 28.23% of “Magyar Jeti Zrt.” Which is the largest Hungarian left-wing website, “444.hu” , owns. The new acquisition is therefore very important from a Central European point of view, so much so that it caught the attention of the regional press. Former Slovak President Robert Fico also spoke on the subject. First of all, he pointed out that the new director of the Slovak Migration Office comes from Soros’ Open Society Foundation. He then suggested that the 2019 riots that led to his resignation were partly funded by Soros.

Interesting information comes from the same site “SME” that talks in an article about a loan granted to Petit Press by the MDIF in the 1990s. The New York fund affiliated with Soros was in contact with the Slovak media giant decades ago. We report a few words from Harlan Mandel, CEO of MDIF, in an interview with SME:

Investing in Petit Press is a fantastic and exciting opportunity. It expresses our confidence in the strength of the titles and, in particular, in the stability of medium-sized companies. We believe that Petit Press’s dominant position in digital information in Slovakia can be further expanded as the company continues to build its business on the values of quality journalism. We look forward to working with all other shareholders, including the majority shareholder PSIS, who has tirelessly supported the editorial quality of Petit Press from the start.

Alexej Fulmek, CEO of Petit Press, describes the change of ownership as an important development:

I am really happy that the new owner of the company is MDIF because I have been following his work for over twenty years. The first goal of MDIF has always been to defend the independence and freedom of the media.

Source: UME

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