Having recently acquired a majority stake in Russia’s leading cable operator NKS, Rostelecom is now increasingly keen on buying the DTH platform Orion Express.
Kommersant reports that the telco is interested in acquiring at least 50% of Orion Express and its second platform Continent TV, having previously wanted to buy no more than 10% for $4 million (€2.86 million), with a view to securing the remaining 90% within three years.
Orion Express was established in 2005 and initially provided services for cable operators. However, it entered the DTH market two years later and is currently believed to have around 300,000 subscribers, equivalent to a DTH market share of around 5%.
Its most recent published financial results for 2009 show the company had revenues of $16.5 million and debts of over $20 million. Revenues are believed to have doubled last year, while the debt remained almost unchanged.
Although Rostelecom is reported to be aiming to secure a 15-20% share of the Russian pay-TV market by 2015, the acquisition of Orion Express/Continent TV is now not considered as much of a priority as before the deal to buy NKS’s parent company National Telecommunications (NTK) went through last month.
The latter saw Rostelecom and its two of its subsidiaries – Uralsvyazinform and North-West Telecom (NWT) – acquire 71.8% of NTK for $981 million.
Rostelecom, which is itself 51% owned by Svyazinvest, is now aiming to acquire the remaining 29.1% in NTK held by minority shareholders.