KKR's United Group seeks regulatory approval to buy six cable operators in Bosnia

By bne IntelliNews October 30, 2014

Bosnian cable operator Telemach is seeking a regulatory approval to acquire six cable operators, active in different parts across Bosnia, news service Klix.ba reported on Oct 30. Sarajevo-based Telemach is a unit of United Group, South East Europe’s leading regional pay TV platform which is controlled by US private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR).

As already announced earlier, Telemach has asked the country’s competition watchdog to allow it to purchase local cable TV and internet operators BHB Cable TV, HKB-net and M&H Company. It now also seeks to acquire majority stakes in Bugojno-based Vrbaska Kablovska Televizija – Network, in Sarajevo-based KATV HS and Mostar-based Velnet.

Stjepo Pranjic from the competition agency told Klix.ba that Telemach’s requests are still under consideration, adding the agency will take a final decision based on a detailed market analysis. He said it is still too early to judge whether there are elements of market domination.

United Group, operating under the SBB and Telemach brands, serves 1.89 million customers across the six markets of former Yugoslavia with a combined population of over 20 million. It is also is in the final stages of launching a new news TV station in the Balkans region, to be called N1. KKR wrapped up in March the EUR 1bn acquisition of the United Group from its peer Mid Europa Partners. The EBRD co-invested EUR 50mn alongside KKR in the transaction.

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