The American Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) acquired a minority stake in Wirtualna Polska Holding. The investment is intended to support maintaining the independence of WP's media.
Wirtualna Polska (WP) is Poland’s largest online media publisher. Every day, its editorial staff of more than 400 prepare news, reports and videos that are read or viewed by an audience of over a dozen million Poles. WP’s publications, many of which concerned irregularities in the work of public administration or improper behavior by politicians or public servants, have earned a variety of prestigious prizes and awards.
– Some of the publications appearing in WP’s services have been met with unwarranted backlash from the authorities. We have experienced appalling attempts at suppressing our independence, such as those revealed by WP’s editor-in-chief in June. For this reason, we, as the founders of our media group, have decided to sell a minority stake in WP to a US-based fund the mission of which is to support reliable journalism around the world. We have decided to go ahead with the deal this year, even though we are of the opinion that WP’s current stock market valuation does not properly reflect the actual market value of our company, because we as the owners consider it much more important to team up with a business partner who will be there for us whenever media freedom in Poland comes under attack. However, the controlling stake will remain in Polish hands – says Jacek Świderski, CEO of Wirtualna Polska Holding S.A.
MDIF invested PLN 6 million in Wirtualna Polska in exchange for approximately 0.2% of the shares.
– MDIF supports independent media around the world as it is the foundation of democracy and the backbone of civil society. 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 – says Harlan Mandel, CEO MDIF.
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.