Central European Media Enterprises (CME), which has a strong presence in four CEE TV markets, has made its best ever start to a year.
Its TV ad revenues were 26% higher at actual and 7% at constant rates than in the first quarter of 2017. Meanwhile, carriage fees and subscription revenues were 23% up at actual and 8% at constant rates. OIBDA was also up significantly (45% actual, 26% constant), with the OIBDA margin growing from 19% to 22%.
In its latest set of results, the company says that it expects to close the sale of its operations in Croatia and Slovenia in Q2, with the proceeds being used to reduce its debt.
Alongside its results, CME has also announced a new financing transaction to reduce average borrowing costs and improve the maturity profile of its senior debt. Agreed with Time Warner, its highlights include CME’s average cost of borrowing being reduced by neartly 200 basis points to about 4% from next month; further pricing reductions that may see the all-in rate fall top as low as 3%; maturity date of existing €235 million loan extended by two years to November 2021; maturity date of existing €469 million loan extended to April 2023; and increased capacity of existing revolving credit facility to $75 million and maturity extended until April 2023.
Commenting on the results and announcements, Michael Del Nin, co-CEO, said they “bode very well for the future of CME. Firstly, the financial results for Q1 represent our strongest start to any year in a decade. The increase in profitability and cash flow generation in the quarter have helped drive down our leverage ratio and, when paired with the proceeds from warrants that have now been exercised, allow us to complete another key step in our ongoing deleveraging plan. But just as importantly, the new refinancing transactions, which address the maturity profile of our debt and significantly cut our borrowing costs to record lows, put in place the capital structure that we need for the exciting next phase of the company’s future.”
Christoph Mainusch, co-CEO, added: “We won the prime time grid in each country nearly every night during the quarter, which contributed to significant revenue growth. Our channels provide extensive reach for advertisers because they continue to be the most popular source of news and entertainment in our countries. We will invest in local content, while focusing on controlling costs overall, and remain market leaders in our territories.”