If press reports in the Czech Republic and Romania are to be believed, the sale of Central European Media Enterprises (CME) to PPF Group could only be days away.
Summarising these reports, published by Hospodarske Noviny and Aktualne.cz (Czech Republic) and Capital (Bulgaria) to coincide with CME’s latest set of results, Reuters says that Petr Kellner, the billionaire head of the Czech PPF Group, is conducting the talks personally. Should they reach a successful conclusion, PPF Group will buy the majority stake in CME currently held by AT&T, amounting to 64% of the company’s stock but effectively 75% through preferred shares.
Although comments on these reports are few on the ground, CME’s latest results were better than expected and in a conference call the company confirmed that a strategic review, launched earlier this year and including the sale of all or part of the company, remains under way.
The acquisition of CME would mark a major success for PPF Group, which is becoming an increasingly important player in the region’s telecom industry. Besides owning the Czech incumbent O2, it controls Telenor’s former asserts in four CEE countries. It also came close to buying Bulgaria’s Nova TV earlier this before the broadcaster was eventually sold by Modern Times Group (MTG) to the Bulgarian businessmen Kiril and Georgi Domuschiev.
For CME, on the other hand, a change of ownership has been long on the cards. The company has been actively seeking to reduce its presence in the region and completed the sale of Nova TV in Croatia earlier this year. However, it still remains in Slovenia, as well as Bulgaria, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Although reports about a possible sale should still be treated with caution, the likelihood is that we are now approaching the final stages of a process that has gone on for quite some time.