The last two weeks have seen a surprising degree of M&A activity across Central and Eastern Europe.
Just before Christmas, the Slovak regulator RVR approved a change of ownership at TA3, the country’s first and longest-established news-based TV station. Having previously been part of Grabofal Group, it is now backed by Blueberg Media, which is based in the Czech Republic.
Hungary’s 4iG subsequently made the news not once but twice, firstly by announcing on December 28 that it had entered into a final agreement to buy Albania’s One Telecommunications and then on January 4 by completing the acquisition of Digi Communications’ Hungarian assets. Both transactions have far-reaching implications, with the former closely following on from the acquisition of the leading Albanian telco ALBtelecom and paving the way for 4iG to become a leading player in the Albanian market and the latter marking the end of Digi’s presence in Hungary after over two decades.
Elsewhere, in what was a little reported transaction, the French company Meridiam acquired a controlling stake in Netcity, which develops and operates the underground fibre-optics and ducts telecommunications network in the Romanian capital, Bucharest.
And to cap things off, this week we have seen two more important transactions. The first involved the Polish national transmission company Emitel, which will shortly see its ownership switch from Alinda Capital Partners to Cordiant Digital Infrastructure Ltd, an investment fund listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE).
The second involved Telia, which has decided to refocus its operations in Latvia by selling 100% of the local subsidiary to the incumbent Tet, in which it holds a minority (49%) stake through its subsidiary Tilts Communications.
Interestingly, another deal, though not directly involving the CEE region, was in some respects perhaps one of the most intriguing. It saw Dragan Solak, the founder of United Group, currently one of the most dynamic companies in the electronic communication sector, acquire a controlling stake in the Premier League club Southampton through a London-based investment firm named Sport Republic.
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