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Week of July 10, 2017

Big media companies still carefully watching the money
"helping us to save"

Asset trades in any business sector are typically uncomplicated, particularly for large publicly-traded companies. Acquisitions and exits in the media sector, certainly above a certain value, are largely strategic. Big well-financed companies pay attention to competition and, of course, market dimensions. And every company watches even small amounts.

Central European Media Enterprises (CME), principally owned by Time Warner, is exiting its Croatian and Slovenian assets, reported Reuters (July 10). The television channels are being acquired by United Group subsidiary Slovenia Broadband for €230 million. Assets include Nova TV and Doma TV in Croatia and POP TV and Kanal A in Slovenia. United Group is principally owned by leveraged buyout house KKR and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

CME co-chief executive Michael Del Nin said proceeds would go to debt reduction. There is a €250 million loan due next year and the deal would significantly lower borrowing costs “helping us to save over US$30.0 million in annual interest costs,” quoted by seenews.com (July 10). After Time Warner took majority control over CME in 2014 the company moved quite deliberately to strengthen the balance sheet. Assets in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania and Moldova are retained. Channels in Slovakia were re-branded in 2016.

Time Warner recently agreed to invest US$100 million in Snap Inc., owner of social video messaging app Snapchat, to create original content, reported Bloomberg and others (June 19). And then Time Warner awaits US regulatory approvals for a US$86 billion acquisition by telecom giant AT&T.

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