Romania’s Digital Cable Systems (DCS), which operates under the brand name AKTA, has once again found itself in the spotlight.
If latest reports in the local media are to be believed, the company may soon be taken over by Orange. This would be a major development, strengthening Orange’s position in an electronic communications market in which RCS&RDS, Telekom Romania, UPC Romania and Vodafone are the other key players.
DCS was established in 2005 through the merger of several cable operators and is currently backed by the US private equity fund PineBridge New Europe Partners, in which the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is a limited partner. However, it has, at least unofficially, been on the market for a while and in Q1 2015 it was reported that PineBridge had turned down bids from both UPC and Vodafone. At that time, PineBridge was understood to be seeking €200 million for AKTA, which was double the amount being offered.
Two years later, it was also offered in the region of €100 million, but now Orange may be willing to meet its original valuation.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding its future ownership, AKTA has continued to hold its own in a market in which it is one of the largest cable operators after RCS&RDS and UPC. Perhaps the most important landmark in its history was its decision to sell a DTH operation named AKTA Satelite to Romtelecom (now Telekom Romania) in 2011. At that time, this was part of a consolidation process in Romania’s DTH market and it freed up AKTA to focus on its cable activities.
More recently, it formed a subsidiary named AKTA Telecom that has primarily been used for the acquisition, consolidation and integration of smaller operators. It has also secured funding from the EBRD and continues to invest in both acquisitions and infrastructure, having earmarked €10 million for this year, and became an MVNO in 2017 thanks to an agreement with Telekom Romania.
However, given the competitive pressures of the market in Romania, along with the possibility of a deal between Vodafone and UPC, now may be the right time for Orange to make its move.