Vitas Tomkus, owner of Respublikos Leidiniai (Respublika Publications) media group, is selling the controlling stake in Elta news agency.
Vitas Tomkus
© DELFI / Audrius Solominas

"Yes, the deal is in progress. (…) I am not selling 100 percent, we're talking about the controlling stake. (…) There are certain commercial secrets, however, this is a controlling stake and a possibility to buy out 100 percent," Tomkus told BNS on Friday.

The deal was reported by delfi.lt news portal, saying that Elta was being bought by businessman Gitana Markovičienė who has left the Labor Party a few weeks ago.

"There were many buyers. (…) There were the Estonian owners of BNS (Eesti Meedia), they called and made an offer, which was not serious at all. As far as I understood, they wanted to monopolize the market or something. I thought this would not benefit Lithuania very much. Then there was (former 15min.lt and BNS CEO) Tomas Balžekas, however, this was more of an ambition to prove something to Estonians, it seems to me it had little to do with journalism," said Tomkus.

He would not disclose the value of the transaction: "The price was better than offered by BNS (owners)."

In Tomkus' words, the new owner will gain access to Elta's business and photograph archives. He said the deal would be finalized within a week.

Markovicienė could not be reached by BNS on Friday, however, she said in a comment sent to BNS that more details about the deal and Elta's plans would be provided after the deal has been closed.

Diana Velečkienė, director of Respublikos Leidiniai, told BNS that Markovicienė recently left the company where she worked as director for advertisement and commercial affairs. Markovicienė recently left her post as deputy to the Labor Party's leader, Živile Pinskuvienė.

Markovicienė, listing herself as economist, wrote articles to Respublika and delfi.lt on various political and economic topics.

Markovicienė, 40, has worked at Ukio Bankas, Swedbank and Danske Bank. According to her LinkedIn profile, she heads a company GM Media Invest, however, the company is not registered at the Center of Registers.

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