Investment group PPF, owned by the Czech Republic’s wealthiest businessman, Petr Kellner, has agreed to buy broadcaster Central European Media Enterprises Ltd (CME) in a cash deal valued at about USD 2.1 billion.
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The deal, due to be completed in the middle of 2020 subject to shareholder and regulatory approval, will mark the exit of CME’s largest shareholder, AT&T asit pays down debt.
It also expands PPF’s reach in the media and telecommunications landscape across the region. CME is a media and entertainment company operating in five central and eastern European markets with a population of about 45 million people. The company will pay USD 4.58 per share in cash to the broadcast group.
CME joint CEOs, Michael Del Nin and Christoph Mainusch, said the sale „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”
PPF owner Kellner are already has business interests in Romania in the real estate sector, ING Bank and the Metropolis Center in Bucharest, News.ro reports.
He has a personal wealth of USD 15.4 billion according to Forbes. Media reports say he is close to pro-Russian President Milos Zeman, and PFF Group is the controlling shareholder in Home Credit, a large consumer finance firm that operates in 10 countries.
The company was the second largest consumer lender in Russia in 2007 and first foreign company to set up as a consumer finance lender in China. In In 2015 company launched its operations in the U.S.
CME has 30 television channels in Romania (PRO-TV), Bulgaria (bTV), the Czech Republic (Nova), the Slovak Republic (TV Markiza) and Slovenia (POP TV, Kanal A) and others.
PPF said CME is a „healthy and well-run organization and we do not intend to make any significant changes to its operations”.
PPF owns O2 Czech Republic and also acquired Telenor’s eastern European operations. An attempt to acquire the Bulgarian broadcaster Nova last year was blocked by competition authorities.
CME is traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market and the Prague Stock Exchange.
PPF Group invests in multiple market segments such as financial services, telecommunications, biotechnology, real estate and mechanical engineering.