Change is in the air for one of Central and Eastern Europe’s longest established media and entertainment companies.
Earlier this week CME, which has been present in the region since the early 1990s, announced that it has started to “explore and evaluate potential strategic alternatives” focused on maximising shareholder value.
In practice this can mean any one of several things, with one of the most likely being that the company, which is itself backed by AT&T Inc., is looking for a buyer for some if not all its assets in the five regional markets it is currently present in.
To say the last quarter century has been a journey for CME is something of an understatement. The first few years were little short of spectacular, marked by successful TV station launches in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Romania. It then ran into difficulties and retrenched, exiting Poland and Ukraine in the process, before encountering huge financial problems that almost brought the company to its knees.
However, it has been very much in recovery mode in the last few years and was even able to announce in February that it had ended 2018 in its best-ever financial position.
This was despite the protracted sale of its operation in Slovenia, which it brought to an abrupt end in January after having failed to secure regulatory approval.
Whatever happens to CME, its broadcasting assets are all in a strong position in their respective countries. Indeed, Nova (Czech Republic), Markiza (Slovakia), Pro TV (Romania) and Pro Plus (Slovenia) are all market leaders, while bTV Media Group effectively operates as a duopoly with Nova in Bulgaria.
While it makes little sense to speculate on the eventual outcome, there will certainly be several interested parties should these assets be put up for sale.