Media Development Investment Fund has acquired a minority stake in Wirtualna Polska Holding. The investment is intended to help maintain the media company’s independence.
WP is the largest Polish online media publisher, producing news and information in multiple formats to an audience of several million. With more than 400 editorial staff, WP’s publications have won numerous awards and distinctions, many related to their reporting on irregularities in public administration or inappropriate actions of politicians and officials.
“Some publications that appear on WP websites trigger unfounded attacks from the authorities,” said Jacek Świderski, President of Wirtualna Polska Holding S.A.. “Attempts to influence the independence of our media, described for example by the Editor-in-Chief of WP in June, were shocking. Therefore, as founders, we decided to sell a minority stake in WP to an American fund whose mission is to support independent journalism around the world. We agreed to this transaction this year even though the current stock price of the shares does not correspond – in our opinion – to the real market value of WP. In this case, however, it is much more important for us as owners to find a partner who will support us in defending media freedom in Poland. The controlling stake remains in Polish hands.”
MDIF invested PLN 6 million in Wirtualna Polska in exchange for approximately 0.2% of the company’s shares.
“MDIF supports independent media around the world as it is the foundation of democracy and the backbone of civil society,” said Harlan Mandel, MDIF’s Chief Executive Officer. “They play a critical role shining a light on those in power – regardless of party – and holding them accountable to their citizens. WP is one of the largest media in Poland – we appreciate its position, quality of journalism and the great importance of recent investigative publications for the media market in Poland. The investment is an expression of MDIF’s consistent commitment to the Polish market.”
WP Group is a technology holding company that conducts media, advertising and e-commerce. It is the owner of the WP portal, it also has specialized thematic websites, such as money.pl, WP SportoweFakty, benchmark.pl, and develops subscription services, through Audioteka and Patronite and other companies. In the e-commerce industry, WP operates mainly in the areas of tourism (including wakacje.pl, Szallas Group, nocowanie.pl) and consumer finance (superauto.pl and totalmoney.pl). According to a Mediapanel study, in September 2023, more than 21 million Poles used WP online products.
Media Development Investment Fund is a not-for-profit investment fund based in New York, United States. It provides debt and equity financing supported by technical assistance to independent media companies in countries where access to free and independent media is under threat. With $148 million assets under management, since 1996 MDIF has invested almost $300 million in 148 independent media businesses in 47 countries. Its investments help independent media around the world provide the news, information and debate that people need to build free, thriving societies.