Central European Media Enterprises (CME) has decided to terminate an agreement, previously announced in July 2017, to sell its operations in Slovenia. Instead, it will retain full ownership of what is the leading TV network in the country.
Commenting on the development, Michael Del Nin, co-CEO, said: “Since we announced our intention to sell our Slovenian business 18 months ago in order to accelerate deleveraging, we have repaid approximately $370 million in loans, reducing our gross debt by about 30%, and cut our average borrowing cost by more than half to 3.5%. At the same time, Slovenia has grown its revenues significantly and reached a level of profitability that it hasn’t seen in a decade. On a five country basis, our OIBDA growth rates for both 2018 and 2019 should exceed what we have been expecting from only four. Furthermore, this accelerated growth means that even without the proceeds from the planned divestiture, our net leverage ratio should approach 3x by the end of Q1, a delay of just one quarter compared to our expectations if the sale had been completed.”
Christoph Mainusch, co-CEO, added: “We have always said this transaction was not a reflection of our outlook for the business. Quite the contrary, we are strong believers in the value of television assets and the future of the Slovenian operations, which have been confirmed by its spectacular growth over the last year. We look forward to continuing to work with the team at Pop TV in our longstanding tradition of providing objective news and the best entertainment for Slovenia.”
Broadband TV News notes that CME originally agreed to sell its operations in Croatia and Slovenia to Slovenia Broadband, a subsidiary of United Group, for €230 million in cash.
However, the deal ran into difficulties with the competition authorities in both countries before eventually receiving approval in Croatia.