To say it’s been an eventful year so far for Romania’s RCS&RDS is probably an understatement.
Certainly this month the company seems to have never been out of the spotlight, firstly through a much-publicised listing on the Bucharest Stock Exchange and now an investigation in which it has been accused of bribery and money laundering.
It all seems a far cry from the early days of RCS&RDS, which is also known to many as Digi. A decade ago it found itself riding the crest of a wave, boasting pay-TV operations in a growing number of Central and East European countries.
Its strategy at that time was to sell services cheaply, building critical mass in what were highly competitive markets. However, by failing to invest it found itself falling behind in some of those markets and eventually exited all but Romania and Hungary.
All this took place against the backdrop of if not exactly secrecy then little or any publicity. Some argued at that time that this reflected the nature of Zoltan Teszari, the company’s founder and main owner.
Yet since the retrenchment to the two core markets, RCS&RDS has shown a high level of commitment and sought funds to improve its financial situation. Most recently, it raised close to €700 million in two bond issues in London in late 2016, while its IPO in Bucharest earlier this month – the largest listing of a private company on the Romanian capital market to date – brought in €210 million.
This now threatens to be overshadowed by the corruption investigation, which relates to the securing of TV rights to Romania’s premier football league in the seasons 2008-2011. Whatever the outcome, RCS&RDS will continue to play a pivotal role in both its home market, where it is the leading provider of cable and DTH services, and in Hungary, where it continues to provide strong competition to both UPC and Magyar Telekom.