Seznam buys out foreign shareholders


Czech Internet search engine company Seznam is regarded as a local success story which has held off the competition of global giants such as Google.

Photo: archive of Radio Prague
While the two might debate the details of how they dominate the Czech search market, most observers reckon they are neck and neck, with some giving Seznam the slight advantage.

Although 2015 results will only be unveiled in the spring, Seznam is already trumpeting the news that last year was its best ever for revenues generated from internet clicks on its main and specialist search pages and the clicks of millions of Czech users.

And in some ways, the Czech success story of the last decades has just become more so. Seznam announced Thursday that the foreign investment funds Tiger Holding Four and Miura have accepted an offer to sell-out their stake.

Roughly translated, that means that with the transfer of their 30 percent stake, Seznam once again returns to the full ownership of its Czech founder Ivo Lukačovič. Both sides agreed not to disclose the sale price for the minority stake, but the price tag is put at around 1.0 billion crowns by analysts.

The two investment funds came on board in 2007 when a previous foreign investor sold up. Then and earlier, Seznam still needed a foreign foothold as it sought to develop its business and fight off Google’s target of sweeping the board and becoming the biggest search engine company across all European markets. The original minority stake was sold off in 2000. Now the local buyout is seen by Seznam general manager Pavel Zima as a sign of the company’s strength, stability, and independence.

Seznam has over recent years been seeking to adapt technology and refine its offer to advertisers. It has also been expanding its offer to the wider media market by expanding video advertising, moving into territories occupied by traditional television, and expanding its hold on convention media operations, such as newspapers where it owns around a third in the publishing behind the Czech daily paper Právo.