Central European Media Enterprises (CME) has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by an affiliate of the Czech Republic’s PPF Group in a cash transaction of approximately $2.1 billion.
Under the terms of the deal, which has been approved unanimously by CME’s board of directors and will also be given the green light by CME’s largest shareholder AT&T, holders of CME’s issued and outstanding Class A common shares will receive $4.58 per share.
This, says CME, is a premium of around 32% to CME’s share price prior to an announcement on March 25 that the company was to explore and evaluate potential strategic alternatives.
The transaction is expected to be completed by mid-2020, subject to regulatory approvals and the satisfaction of customary closing conditions.
Commenting on the transaction, John Billock, chairman of the CME board of directors, said: “The special committee of the board, together with our advisors, conducted an extensive review of alternatives, which involved outreach to and engagement with a significant number of strategic and financial parties. This announcement today reaffirms our commitment to deliver value to all shareholders.”
In a joint statement, Michael Del Nin and Christoph Mainusch, CME’s co-CEOs, added: “Over the course of the last six years, while transforming the business and delivering a continuous stretch of astonishing profitability growth, our primary focus has been on creating value for our owners. This transaction, which is the culmination of those efforts, is the right one for our shareholders and a satisfying conclusion to one of the most successful turnarounds of a leading media company in recent times. We are pleased that the PPF Group, with a strong track record as operators of businesses across many industries, shares our perspective on the importance of local content and its ability to attract large audiences to television.”
Broadband TV News notes that news of the transaction marks the end of months of speculation about the sale of CME. PPF Group was widely mentioned in local reports, especially in the Czech media, as a potential buyer.
CME has been present in the CEE region since the early 1990s and has TV interests in the Czech Republic, Slovakia. Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria.
Meanwhile, PPF Group, which is owned by the Czech billionaire Petr Kellner, includes the Czech incumbent O2 and Telenor’s former CEE operations among its assets.
PPF Group also came close to buying Bulgaria’s Nova TV from Modern Times Group (MTG) earlier this year before it was eventually sold to the Bulgarian entrepreneurs Kiril and Georgi Domushiev.