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No. 33: Clarin Group

Buenos Aires, Argentia

Revenue: $2.107 million

Grupo Clarin, the biggest media group in Argentina, is taking a cautious approach to growth.

Beset by a recession entering its fourth year, Clarin is seeking to develop and sustain existing services, and prudently enter new ventures under the leadership of chief executive Hector H. Magnetto, a shareholder and veteran of the group. Already, the group encompasses film, print, radio, sports, telecommunications and television in Argentina and neighboring countries.

Magnetto’s foremost challenge is to surmount Argentina’s economic slump and suffocating credit crunch. Revenue dropped 4% in 2000, forcing the company to cut costs, slow expansion and put off plans to go public. The crisis also pushed its cable operator Multicanal close to default on what amounts to 65% of the group’s debt.

Despite the setbacks, the privately held group, 18% owned by America’s Goldman Sachs, made numerous advances last year.

Helping to boost circulation and advertising sales, it redesigned its part-owned newspapers in smaller Argentine markets and launched weekly supplements with its national flagship paper Clarin. It also bought 75% of La Razon, a free newspaper that commands a 70% share of the ad spend in its market, and revamped its radio stations.

The group maintained a 42% share of the broadcast TV market, and bought two stations in the provinces. It also swapped a majority stake in DirecTV Latin America’s local unit for 4% of the regional satellite TV operation. And it launched a free Internet service provider and a real-time online news provider, and expanded its ISP to Brazil.

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