MDIF today announced that it has invested in Pluralis B.V., an impact investment vehicle for news companies that provide independent, quality reporting in countries in Europe where a plural media is at risk. MDIF is also managing Pluralis.
Pluralis, which was publicly launched today, brings together a coalition of prestigious European media companies, foundations and impact investors, at the initiative of Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF), King Baudouin Foundation, Tinius Trust and Mediahuis, a leading European news publisher with its main activities in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Ireland.
Pluralis’ objective is to support plurality of news across Europe. It will invest mission-aligned capital and media expertise in independent media companies to support and strengthen investee businesses, and to help preserve the editorial independence of their news operations. Pluralis eschews any involvement with a company’s editorial decision-making.
Pluralis also announced that it has acquired a 40% share of leading Polish media company Gremi Media S.A., publisher of Rzeczpospolita, one of Poland’s most important and influential newspapers. The stake in Gremi is Pluralis’ second investment, following the acquisition of a 34% stake in Petit Press, Slovakia’s second largest publisher, earlier this year.
“Grounding each of our investments is the belief that citizens’ access to a plurality of news sources is fundamental for sustaining European democracy,” said Pluralis Chairman Thomas Leysen, who is also Chairman of Mediahuis. “Our investment framework is explicitly non-partisan: we invest in independent media companies practising responsible high-quality journalism, regardless of editorial orientation.”
In many parts of Europe, independent news media are under growing pressure, with plurality under threat and misinformation rising. The past decade has seen a wave of ownership takeovers across the region.
“Gremi and Petit Press are strong news businesses built around the principles of quality journalism,” said Mr. Leysen. “Both are leading sources of reliable news and diverse opinion in their countries and our investments can help them deliver on their growth strategies.”
Pluralis draws on the expertise and experience of its shareholders to support investee management through active board participation, and by transferring leading-edge industry expertise to facilitate company growth and value creation.
Luc Tayart de Borms, Managing Director of King Baudouin Foundation, commented: “King Baudouin Foundation decided some time ago to invest part of its endowment in mission-related investments. Our stake in Pluralis fits squarely into that objective and adds to our already existing support of media in Europe via Civitates, an initiative of 21 foundations for democracy and solidarity in Europe.”
“MDIF is delighted to join such a diverse group of investors in Pluralis, all of whom value the importance of media pluralism and independence,” said Harlan Mandel, MDIF CEO. “We expect Pluralis to attract more investors and become the investment vehicle of choice for those committed to maintaining a diverse media across Europe.”
Pluralis continues to assess potential investments across Europe as it widens its coalition of media houses, foundations and impact investors.
Pluralis B.V. is a Dutch limited liability company duly organised under the laws of the Netherlands with its seat in Amsterdam. Its shareholder base comprises King Baudouin Foundation holding 28.46% of Pluralis, other foundations Tinius Trust and KIM (6.07%), Mediahuis 25.39%) , Media Development Investment Fund (2.02%), Soros Economic Development Fund (17.41%) as well as other impact investors and family offices such as VP Capital (20.64%). Pluralis is currently in discussion with additional investors to enlarge and further diversify its funding base.