Petr Kellner Interested In Buying bTV

For the past two years, the European media group Central European Media Enterprises (CME), which is part of the portfolio of US giant AT&T, has been actively working to sell some of its assets in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). The Bulgarian group of bTV was also discussed as part of the deals.

CME managed to make some of the sales and others failed, but at the end of this spring, the company confirmed that the “door” to deals remains open. At that time, the group decided to continue looking for sales opportunities, and in addition to operating in the markets in the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

In recent months, CME seems to have worked hard in this direction, and according to current information in Slovak media, currently, the only candidate for the media company’s business is billionaire Petr Kellner. He is behind the investment firm PPF, which bought Telenor’s subsidiaries in the region and tried to acquire Nova TV in Bulgaria.

The telecom deal, which went through European regulators, was approved. However, the Bulgarian Competition Commission stopped acquiring the Nova Broadcasting Group with motives that were not unilaterally adopted. Later, the antitrust authority quickly authorized the acquisition of television and other assets of the company by Bulgarian businessmen Cyril and Georgi Domusichev.

According to the Slovak editions HN Online and Hlavny Dennik, two different players have recently been bidding for CME’s business – the American media company Discovery and the Czech PPF. The former, however, has dropped out of the race and is thus currently the only candidate remaining in the Kellner investment group. HN claims the final decision should have been ready by the end of July or early August but was delayed due to a lack of consensus on the price of the deal. The information shows that CME is negotiating the sale of all its assets in the region. In the event that an agreement is finally reached, Petr Kellner will become the owner not only of the Bulgarian group around bTV but also of the Romanian PRO TV, Kanal A and POP TV in Slovenia and others. This is not the first time that PPF has become involved as a potential buyer of CME. In 2017, it again participated in the bidding of its business in the region, but later declined, while the Chinese CEFC and Czech-Slovak Penta Investments remained in the bidding.

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