It looks like some major consolidation is about to go down in the Central European Internet market, and in particular Poland.
According to local newspaper reports, the largest Internet group in the region, Naspers/MIH Group, is conducting due diligence of assets belonging to DST (Digital Sky Technology)-owned holding Forticom. Naspers/MIH Group and DST already together own the largest Russian online portal Mail.ru.
Should the books stack up, the deal would see Naspers/MIH and DST merge their Polish Internet properties: IM service Gadu-Gadu, wholly owned by Naspers, has 15 million registered users, and the Facebook-of-Poland Nasza-Klasa.pl, 70% owned by Forticom, claims over 23 million registered users. The resulting single entity would reach over half of Poland’s Internet audience, reports Quintura.
Forticom also owns social networks Odnoklassniki.ru in Russia and One.lv & One.lt in Latvia and Lithuania respectively – so essentially it looks like Naspers and Forticom (DST) are doing an aggressive roll-up of assets across Central Europe to solidify their already strong positioning.
Poland claims over 20 million Internet users, which is around 52% of the 38 million population, so there’s plenty of room for organic growth yet. While the internet advertising market in the country was reportedly valued at $370 million in 2009.