Eduardo Lomanto (photo), is consultant to La Nación and President of US Hispanic Media (USHM), the subsidiary of La Nacion that recently acquired a majority stake in ImpreMedia. Prior to leading USHM, Lomanto held various executive positions within La Nación from 1998 to 2009. Lomanto is "a person of extreme trust to La Nacion S.A. shareholders" according to a La Nacion spokesperson. Lomanto talked to Portada in an exclusive interview about how he sees the future of Impremedia. He also provided some details about the recent transaction.
With the purchase of impreMedia, La Nación SA — through US Hispanic Media Inc. — positions itself as the controlling shareholder of ImpreMedia, the largest print and digital media company in the U.S. Hispanic market. While the amount of the transaction was not disclosed "as per a confidentiality clause in the contract," says Lomanto, "US Hispanic Media acquired a 90% stake in impreMedia. The remaining 10% remains in the hands of impreMedia’s former shareholders."
Although US Hispanic Media becomes impreMedia’s majority shareholder, Lomanto points out that "this is not a merger between the companies. ImpreMedia will continue to operate independently, with its own management and editorial staff." He adds: “We always bet on local. Content will continue to be produced by impreMedia staff. Nothing will change as far as content."
As for the possible synergies between the companies, Lomanto asserts that this will have less to do with content produced, but rather with providing knowledge gained from La Nación’s experience. To this end, Lomanto emphasizes the role technology tools will play as the modus operandi in such areas as developing online classifieds.
La Nación SA’s experience in the online classifieds’ business includes the founding of online classifieds company Dridco, which owns such sites in Argentina as zonacitas and zonaprop, among others. In addition to La Nación, Dridco’s other founding partners are Guido Grinbaum, Gabriel Dantur, Daniel Serra, Ricardo Francisco Amenedo, and Francisco de la Mano. Dridco operates in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela, and has virtual operations in Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Panama and Spain.
Due to current confrontation between the Argentinean government and La Nación SA over control of the Papel Prensa newsprint factory, some analysts interpreted the La Nacion-ImpreMedia deal as a way for La Nacion to diversify its financial risk by investing in the U.S. Hispanic market. Lomanto flatly denies this: "La Nación is 100% Argentinean and will continue to be, and will also continue to bet on this country. This isn’t the first time an administration has harassed us, and that never stopped our commitment to the country. We’ve been in Argentina for 140 years and we are going to be here for another 140 years."
Solely Economic Reasons
Lomanto tells Portada that La Nación SA’s reasons for investing in impreMedia, after months of negotiations, "were purely and solely economic. After analyzing the U.S. Hispanic market and its rapid growth, we decided to invest in impreMedia."
ImpreMedia was also in negotiations around the same time with its union staff at El Diario/La Prensa. "We had nothing to do with those negotiations. When we purchased impreMedia, those negotiations had already been completed," says Lomanto.
Expectations about future synergies between the companies are evident: "This will be an exceptional platform for the future development of new products, in order to attract additional audiences and become the first choice for advertisers wanting to reach the U.S. Hispanic market," Lomanto asserts..
La Nación is the second-largest circulation newspaper in Argentina (after Clarín) and is the leading conservative paper in the country. Together with Clarín, the group also owns newspapers La Voz del Interior, in Córdoba, and Los Andes, in Mendoza. La Nación owns part of the Diarios y Noticias (DyN) newswire company and publishes several magazines, including Gestión (50% stake), Rolling Stones Argentina, Ahora Mamá, Ohlala, and El Jardín. La Nación is also a joint owner, with Grupo Clarín and the Argentine government, of Papel Prensa, the largest Argentine producer of newsprint. La Nación’s digital media properties include several sites, among them lanacion.com.ar and canchallena.com.
ImpreMedia’s network has 392,000 unique users from the U.S. Hispanic market, according to comScore figures for May 2011. This figure puts impreMedia within the top 10 sites visited by U.S. Hispanics.In addition, impreMedia owns La Opinión newspaper in Los Angeles (daily circulation 70,000), El Diario in New York (daily circulation 50,000), Vista magazine (with U.S. national circulation) and other free weeklies including Chicago's La Raza.