JSC “15min”, which manages news website “15min“, and JSC “BNS”, which manages news agency BNS, both of which have been 100% owned by the Estonian company “Postimees Grupp”, are merging with the Lithuanian media and digital business group “Media bitės”. The newly created media group will operate under the name “15min group”.
After the merger, 60% of the shares of “15min group” will belong to “Postimees Grupp”, 40% – to the shareholders of “Media bitės.”
“Media bitės” brings into the “15min group” its media, photography, press and book distribution businesses and brands. Magazine brands “Žmonės”, “Laimė”, “Legendos”, “Ji”, news website “zmones.lt”, mobile app “Žmonės”, photo agency “ŽMONĖS Foto” and photo archive “Fotobankas.lt”, as well as press and books distribution company “Medipresa”, which also operates online bookstore “Perkuknyga.lt”.
According to the signed agreement, “Media bitės” shareholders and managers, including Tomas Balžekas, the founder and former CEO of “15min”, will be responsible for the management of the “15min group”.
“Ever since I left the CEO position of “15min” and BNS in 2017, I felt like I will be back, maybe in another form, but I will be back. “15min” is part of my DNA since 2005, I have put 12 years of sincere work to the company and the team with my belief that good journalism makes the world a better place.
Today I come back being stronger. During that time, along with my partners we have created a media group that operates in many interesting fields like cinema, digital, print and other markets. I believe that by combining teams, good energy and innovative ideas from both sides, we will become the strongest media group in Lithuania and a very united team that will be guided by strong values and pursue a common goal all together, – says T.Balžekas.
Andrus Raudsalu, the head of “Postimees Grupp”, states that the merger will further strengthen the position of the media business in Lithuania: “We saw a natural match in “Media bitės” – both groups are strongly based on the values of quality journalism. “Postimees Grupp” has been looking to expand on the Lithuanian market for several years and now with this merger we will secure our position as one of the leading players on the market. The future of digital media is monetization through subscriptions. Combining our experience from other markets with “Media bitės”‘ already existing strong local subscriber base and high-quality journalism from both organizations, we will bring a new era to Lithuanian media market”, – says A.Raudsalu.
According to A.Raudsalu, the changes also mean that Ramūnas Šaučikovas will leave his position as the CEO of “15min” and BNS. Donatas Večerskis, who has been the deputy CEO of “15min” until now will become the interim CEO, and Vaidotas Beniušis, current editor-in-chief of the news agency “BNS”, will become interim CEO of BNS.
According to A.Raudsalu, “Postimees Grupp” highly values R.Šaučikovas’ contribution to the business success in Lithuania and establishment of solid groundwork for reliable journalism. “We assure that these principles will be sustained in the future”, – says A.Raudsalu.
Completion of the merger will require the approval of the Lithuanian Competition Council.
The remaining “Postimees Grupp” businesses operating in Latvia and Estonia will continue to be 100% owned by “MM grupp”, whose major shareholder is Margus Linnamäe.
Meanwhile, “Media bitės” will separately maintain JSC “ŽMONĖS Cinema”, which manages the streaming platform of the same name, “Pasaka”, which manages two cinemas of the same name in Vilnius, “Mano daktaras”, which manages the reservation systems “manodaktaras.lt” and “uodega.lt” and websites “pincetas.lt” and sveikas.lt and other small activities that will not be merged into “15min group”.
The shareholders of “Media bitės” are Tomas Balžekas (56,66%), Martynas Basokas (26,67%), Gabrielė Burbienė (10%), Tomas Bindokas (6,67%).