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Czech PPF mounts EUR 1.89bn takeover of Pro Plus owner CME (adds)

Monday, 28/10/2019

Prague, 28 October (STA) - The Czech investment group PPF, owned by Czech billionaire Petr Kellner, has signed an agreement on the takeover of Central European Media Enterprises (CME), which also owns Slovenia's leading television network group Pro Plus. Media reports put the total value of the deal at EUR 1.89 billion.

PPF, which still needs nods from CME's shareholders, the European Commission and individual national regulators, said it would not significantly interfere in the operations of CME.

The CME fund, which is in the majority ownership of US telecommunication giant AT&T, has broadcast operations in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Its Slovenian operation Pro Plus owns two popular TV channels POP TV and Kanal A, along with Brio and Kino, the pay-per-view service Voyo, as well as 24ur.com, one of the leading news portals in the country.

PPF, which expects the approval process to take several months, said BNP Paribas in Societe Generale had acted as financing advisers.

The fund has secured EUR 1.15 billion for the takeover, including from BNP Paribas, Credit Agricole CIB, Credit Suisse, HSBC, Societe Generale and Unicredit. Media reports suggest the total value of the deal is EUR 1.89 billion.

CME explained that the takeover agreement had receivied unanimous support from the the fund's management board and that a green light for the deal had also been announced by AT&T. It expects the deal to be wrapped up in mid-2020.

CME became part AT&T after the conglomerate took over another media and telecommunication giant Time Warner. AT&T directly owns 64% of CME stock, while it controls 75%.

PPF meanwhile says it is investing in different market segments, including financial services, telecommunication, biotechnology, real estate and machine engineering. It is active in Europe, North America and Asia. PPF's total assets exceeded EUR 45 billion at the end of 2018.

CME tried to sell Pro Plus at the end of last year to the Dutch-owned United Group, which already owns telecommunications provider Telemach in Slovenia.

What would have been the biggest media merger fell through at the start of this year, with CME giving up on the sale, which had also been marked by protracted proceedings with the Slovenian competition watchdog. (Source: www.investslovenia.org)


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