The Czech Republic’s PPF Group is coming increasingly to the fore in Central and Eastern Europe’s TV industry.
Just this week, for instance, and following months of speculation, it finally entered into an agreement to buy CME’s interests in the region for around $2.1 billion in cash. It also agreed to sell 25% of its operation in Hungary, which it acquired from Telenor only last year, to the national transmission company Antenna Hungária, which is backed by the Hungarian state.
Yet PPF Group is far from a newcomer to the industry and its acquisition of CME, and in particular its Czech operation TV Nova, has a feeling of déjà-vu about it. Indeed, it owned the broadcaster for around two and a half years before selling it back to its founder CME for €500 million in 2004.
PPF Group itself is headed by the Czech billionaire Petr Kellner and dates back to 1991, when it was established as an investment fund and participated in the privatisation of the country’s economy following the collapse of the communist system two years earlier. Today, it has investments in multiple market segments in Europe, the US and Asia and had assets totalling over €45 billion as of the end of last year.
Although PPF Group had cable interests in Ukraine that were eventually sold to Volia, its first breakthrough in the industry arguably came with the acquisition of the Czech incumbent Telefónica from its Spanish parent in 2003. More recently, it acquired Telenor’s regional telecom assets in 2018 and at the beginning of this year came close to, but ultimately failed in, a bid to buy the Bulgarian national commercial broadcaster Nova TV from Modern Times Group (MTG).
PPF Group is clearly now a major player in CEE’s TV industry and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.