The leading Czech search engine and portal, Seznam, could be sold to either strategic buyer or financial investor, according to Prague Daily Monitor. Seznam had 62% share of the Czech search market vs. Google’s 29% share. Being a major potential buyer, Google is being challenged by private equity firms Warburg Pincus, owner of #2 Czech portal Centrum, and Macquarie Capital Alliance Group, owner of Czech yellow pages publisher Mediatel.
Founded in 1996, Seznam reported 4.4 million unique users in May 2008, ahead of news site iDnes.cz (3.0 million), web portal Centrum.cz (2.9 million), and blogging service Blog.cz (2.4 million), says Czech Business Weekly. Seznam shall generate revenues of ca. $90 million in 2008, up 40% from 2007.
Seznam is majority-owned by its founder Ivo Luka?ovi?. The private equity firms Tiger Holding Four and Miura International own 30% of Seznam. The firms bought-out the stake from Lycos Europe for EUR 65 million ($91 million) in April 2007, valuing the company at $300 million.
Over the last year, Warburg Pincus bought-out Czech portals Centrum.cz and Atlas.cz, Croatian portal Net.hr, and Czech auto news sites cars.cz and autorecenze.cz. The sites have 6.5 million unique monthly users in total. Central European Media Enterprises acquired Blog.cz in June 2008.
Should the deal go ahead, it will be the largest Internet acquisition in Eastern Europe.