Amber’s Oughourlian makes his debut as Prisa president driven by the sale of Santillana

Joseph Oughourlian, new president of Prisa, capitalizes on the presentation of results, which have the momentum of the sale of Santillana Spain underpinned when Javier Monzón still held the position of maximum responsibility of the company.

Prisa closed the year 2020 with a profit of 89.7 million, despite the pandemic and against the losses of 182.3 million in the previous year. To achieve this result, the company has relied on the sale of the business in Spain of Santillana (which many considered the jewel in the crown and which has left in the accounts a capital gain of 377 million).

In 2020, Prisa also carried out the refinancing of the debt with the creditor banks, until March 2025 and at the minimum of the last few years, 679 million euros. The group, which controls media such as El PaÃs or Cadena Ser, has offset the accounting impact of this new refinancing (37 million), the impairments from the sale of Media Capital (77 million), those derived from the totality of the credits pending tax in Spain (62.4 million) and those corresponding to Radio assets in Latin America (26 million). Santillana Espaà ± a has had a lot to do with it.

The price of the sale of the publishing house’s Spanish business to the Finnish group Sanoma was 465 million, while that of Media Capital to Portuguese investors stood at 47.3 million euros, practically the tenth part.

Rosauro Varo in the vice-presidency

Oughourlian, founder of the Amber Capital fund, became Prisa’s non-executive chairman just hours before the company released its annual accounts.

At the meeting of the Board of Directors held this Tuesday, the French investor, formerly of Società © Gà © nà © rale, formalized the position he was already holding, after removing Monzón once he had obtained the support of Telefónica within the group shareholders. Amber Capital is the main shareholder of Prisa thanks to a participation of 29.84% that has finally translated into a preeminence within the Board.

Additionally, Rosauro Varo, president of GAT Inversiones, has been appointed non-executive vice president of the company, which maintains Manuel Mirat as CEO.

The effect of covid

The impact of the covid on the results is, in any case, undeniable. Ebitda, of 64 million, has been reduced by two-thirds from its 2019 amount of 189 million. The pandemic has brought education to a halt and has reduced investments in the media, the two lines of business for this business group. “The year 2020 has been tremendously complicated by the pandemic, which has had a very harsh effect on our businesses. But I think that, under these conditions, Prisa’s response has been exceptional”, considers the CEO, Manuel Mirat.

The company seeks differentiate the Education and Media businesses, a roadmap to which, according to Oughourlian, Monzón was not fully committed. Through El PaÃs, Oughourlian pointed out that his predecessor welcomed some offers for an upcoming sale from Prisa’s media, “a big mistake” and “nonsense” in the words of the financier of Armenian origin and Lebanese. However, as revealed by EL MUNDO, Oughourlian himself had attended to Blas Herrero by phone, who formally launched an offer of around 200 million for communication brands, a proposal rejected by the Board of Directors of the company unanimously.