Belfast Telegraph owner Mediahuis has backed a newly created investment vehicle established to support independent media in Europe.
The impact investment vehicle, Pluralis, has been established to help preserve the editorial independence and quality reporting in countries in Europe where a plural media is at risk.
It is backed by non-governmental organisations including New York based Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) and Belgium’s King Baudouin Foundation. Also behind the venture is Tinius Trust, the biggest shareholder in Norway based media group Schibsted and Mediahuis – which owns the former Independent News and Media in Ireland as well as being a major media group in Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg.
luralis will provide capital and cutting-edge expertise to media outlets which will retain their editorial independence.
In a statement, Pluralis said its 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, it said.
That will not include any involvement with a company’s editorial decision-making, Pluralis said.
Pluralis is also acquiring a 40pc share of leading Polish media company Gremi Media, publisher of Rzeczpospolita, one of Poland’s most important and influential newspapers.
That follows the acquisition of a 34pc 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 nonpartisan: we invest in independent media companies practising responsible high-quality journalism, regardless of editorial orientation.”
Pluralis is being set up in response to growing pressure on media independence in many parts of Europe, with plurality under threat and misinformation rising.
“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 is a Dutch limited liability company based in Amsterdam. Its ownership is made up of King Baudouin Foundation (28.46pc), Mediahuis (25.39pc), Soros Economic Development Fund (17.41pc), other foundations Tinius Trust and KIM (6.07pc), Media Development Investment Fund (2.02pc), as well as other impact investors and family offices such as VP Capital (20.64pc). Pluralis is currently in discussion with additional investors to enlarge and further diversify its funding base.