Court orders Lithuanian watchdog to reassess Eesti Meedia deal in classifieds market

January 19, 2017

A Vilnius court has decided that the Lithuanian Competition Council (LCC) will have to decide again at whether or not to give the green light for Estonian media group Eesti Meedia to implement a deal in the classifieds market that was closed in 2014.

The Vilnius Regional Administrative Court on Thursday partially upheld Eesti Meedia's appeal and ordered the competition watchdog to carry out an additional investigation of the deal and adopt a new decision based on the results of the probe. LCC had previously decided that the media group's Lithuanian subsidiary should not have bought the classifieds portal Diginet.

"This decision was expected. We were convinced from the start that we had done things accurately and followed all Lithuanian laws," CEO of Eesti Meedia Sven Nuutmann told BNS. He added that one likely reason behind starting the proceeding was the fact that Eesti Meedia's competitors worked hard to create a negative image of the media company.

The dispute concerns a transaction with which Eesti Meedia's Lithuanian subsidiary acquired from the South African company Naspers the company Allegro Baltics, which owned the Estonian real estate classifieds portal kv.ee and Lithuanian portal Diginet.

LCC decided last May that the Diginet purchase deal should not have taken place and it has to be reverted. Eesti Meedia did not agree with the competition watchdog's decision and said that it would be impossible to revert the deal.

Eesti Meedia says that in order to reduce concentration, it sold Vertikali Medija, a Lithuanian company that administers the car classifieds site Autogidas and the real estate classifieds site Domo Plius, 10 days before the LCC announced its decision.

In Lithuania, Eesti Meedia owns the Internet platforms 15min.lt, Scanpix.lt, Skelbiu.lt, Aruodas.lt, Ntzemelapis.lt, Cvbankas.lt, Autoplius.lt and Kainos.lt and also provides online advertising services.

The Eesti Meedia Group also owns the Baltic News Service.

Source: Baltic News Service