Southern and Eastern Europe (SEE) is becoming an increasingly important market for Deutsche Telekom. Already present in nine countries in the region, it could, if local reports are to be believed, shortly add a tenth – Serbia – to its portfolio.
Speaking at an investors’ day earlier this month, Guido Kerkhoff, Deutsche Telekom’s manager for the region, said that the company ended 2009 with 1,906,000 subscribers to its TV services in the nine countries. Satellite accounted for nearly half of the total (1,041,000), followed by IPTV (425,000) and cable (440,000), and the overall figure was expected to grow by 60% to over 3,000,000 by 2012.
This, in turn, should be reflected in much higher TV revenues, rising from around €200 million last year to €500 million in 2012.
Of the nine countries currently in the telco’s SEE portfolio, three can probably be described as “standout” TV markets. In Romania, Romtelecom ended 2009 with 911,000 subscribers, of who 884,000 opted for the DTH service Dolce and 27,000 cable. With an IPTV platform now also up and running, this total should exceed one million either at the end of this or the next quarter.
Meanwhile in Hungary, Magyar Telekom had 407,000 cable, 156,000 DTH and 68,000 IPTV subscribers at year’s end. Although DTH is currently driving its business, the main focus is on developing the IPTV operation.
In Croatia, on the other hand, IPTV already accounted for the lion’s share (236,000 out of 242,000) of T-HT’s subscriber base at the end of 2009.
Other markets to watch include Slovakia, where T-Com launched a DTH operation earlier this year and is now offering Fibre/DSL, DSL and satellite packages.
It seems possible that Serbia may soon be added to Deutsche Telekom’s markets in SEE. This follows a statement by Jasna Matic, the country’s Minister for Telecommunications and Information Society, that the privatisation of the incumbent Telekom Serbia would “not be a bad solution”. Although she added that its sale was not necessary at present, the government has since met to discuss the possibility of a tender or IPO.
On the other hand, Serbia Telekom has moved quickly to deny reports about the valuation of the company and its privatisation.
Significantly, Deutsche Telekom already has an indirect stake in Telekom Serbia through Greece’s OTE, which holds 20% of shares in the Serbian company.
Telekom Serbia has a presence in the country’s TV industry through an IPTV operation launched in late 2008 that had just over 11,000 subscribers as of the middle of last year.