2019 was another eventful year for the TV industry in Central and Eastern Europe, with
several important M&As making the headlines.
Vodafone finally completed the acquisition of Liberty Global’s assets in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania, while the Czech Republic’s PPF Group entered into an agreement to buy CME’s operations in five regional markets.
Modern Times Group (MTG) exited Central and Eastern European by selling Bulgaria’s Nova TV to the locally owned Advance Media Group and the Bulgarian incumbent Vivacom found itself with a new owner in the shape of United Group.
Other important transactions included the sale of Baltcom, one of the leading cable operators in the Baltic Republics, to Bite Latvija; Antenna Hungária acquiring a stake in Telenor’s former Hungarian companies; and RCS&RDS (Digi) agreeing to buy Romania’s largest independent cable operator AKTA. At the same time, Telekom Srbija continued its acquisition spree, both in its home market and in neighbouring countries.
As the year drew to a close, one of the most widely expected deals, namely the sale of a majority stake in Telekom Romania by Deutsche Telekom’s OTE, had yet to materialise. However, it was attracting interest from a number of potential bidders including Orange, Digi, United Group, PPF Group and the Bulgarian entrepreneur Spas Roussev and could happen in the near future.
With these M&As we have seen the emergence of key regional players such as PPF Group, whose TV interests were formerly confined to the Czech Republic, and the departure of others, including MTG and CME. United Group, under new ownership, has embarked on a high-profile acquisition spree that may soon also include Tele2 Croatia, while Liberty Global still remains in the region, albeit with a presence now confined to Poland and Slovakia.
In the final Chris Dziadul Reports of the year we will look at what 2020 may hold for the region’s TV industry.