EC clears PPF’s acquisition of Central European Media Enterprises, including Bulgaria’s bTV

The European Commission has approved the proposed sale of Central European Media Enterprises Ltd (CME), which includes Bulgaria’s bTV media group, to Czech investment conglomerate PPF Group.

In a statement, the Commission said that it approved the acquisition unconditionally, having concluded that the transaction would raise no competition concerns in the European Economic Area.

The deal, first announced in October 2019, was notified to the EC in September. Under the terms of the agreement, approved by CME’s largest shareholder, AT&T Inc., holders of CME outstanding Class A common shares will receive $4.58 per share.

The transaction is now expected to be completed on October 13, CME said in a statement.

CME operates 30 television channels in in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Romania, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia. Its Bulgarian channels are bTV, bTV Cinema, bTV Comedy, bTV Action, bTV Lady and Ring.

PPF Group, controlled by billionaire Petr Kellner, had 49 billion euro in assets, as of end-2019, in sectors ranging from banking and financial services to telecommunications, real estate and biotechnology.

In Bulgaria, it owns one of the country’s three major mobile carriers, Telenor Bulgaria, which it acquired in 2018 as part of a 2.8 billion euro deal to buy the Nordic company’s operations in four Eastern European countries.

The same year, PPF also reached an agreement to buy Modern Times Group’s majority stake in Bulgarian broadcaster Nova Broadcasting Group, the main domestic rival of bTV media group, but that deal was blocked by Bulgaria’s competition watchdog. Nova was later sold to a Bulgarian conglomerate.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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