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September 1, 2020 9:26 am

Audio-Book Streamer Storytel to Gain a Foothold in Israel With $6 Million Acquisition of iCast

avatar by Meir Orbach / CTech

A man wearing headphones in a subway station. Photo: Pexels.

CTech – Sweden-based audio-book streaming company Storytel announced Tuesday that it is acquiring iCast, an Israeli provider of audio content. The companies did not disclose the details of the acquisition, but Calcalist has learned that the sum was more than NIS 20 million (approximately $6 million).

Founded in 2006 as a podcast provider, iCast expanded its offerings in 2010 to include an audiobook library, coming to agreements with leading authors and publishers. The company currently has a catalog of more than 2,500 Hebrew titles, including translations of bestsellers like Margret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale and Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, in addition to a wide series of literary classics and fictional novels and original titles by Israeli authors like David Grossman, Meir Shalev, and Amos Oz.

The acquisition will form the basis for the launch of Storytel’s service in Israel in the first quarter of 2021. Storytel is currently operating in 20 international markets. It owns the rights to more than 500,000 titles with a 1.2 million subscriber base for its audiobooks.

“The deal represents a successful combination of iCast’s unique expertise in the Israeli content market and familiarity with the Israeli listener’s tastes with Storytel’s proven commitment to investing in user-friendly technology, content and unparalleled accessibility to popular titles. This joining of forces definitely hints at the large growth potential in the Israeli market and a boost in the status of audiobooks,” said Storytel founder and CEO Jonas Tellander.

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Following the acquisition, iCast founder and CEO Moti Lippmann will be appointed Israel regional manager at Storytel.

“I thank the iCast team for their faith and dedication throughout the years, which led to the establishment of the audiobooks market in Israel and the formation of a company that has shown profits for three years running,” said Lippmann. “Storytel’s international experience and technical capabilities will push the Israeli market forward in terms of user experience, the development of content, production, and marketing, which in turn will make audiobooks relevant to additional consumer segments. It is going to be an exciting journey and we are looking forward to it beginning.”

The deal was brokered by banking and investment company Rosario Capital, led by Boaz Levy, head of Mergers and Acquisitions. Rosario Capital is the Israeli representative of global consultancy firm Oaklins. Attorneys Nili Peleg-Shpolansky and Moran Shachar from Goldfarb Seligman & Co’s Industry and Regulation Department represented iCast and its shareholders.

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