Serbia’s largest cable operator Serbia Broadband – Srpske kablovske mreze (SBB), owned by US private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), has agreed to acquire 100% of local competitor Interaktivne Kablovske Objedinjene Mreze (IKOM) for an undisclosed amount, SBB has confirmed to bne IntelliNews.
If the deal gets regulatory approval, it will turn SBB into one of the biggest telecoms companies in the Western Balkans. There have been plans to build up SBB since its acquisition by KKR. In 2015, SBB acquired 99.27% of EUnet, first internet provider in Serbia and Montenegro, established in 1997.
Founded in 2002, SBB provides digital and analogue cable television and broadband internet in Serbia, and since 2012 landline services as well. With the Total TV platform, SBB is also an operator of satellite television in the region.
“Merging operators is a logical step in the telecommunications market and the trend in the whole world,” Jovana Lukic, SSB’s corporate communications director, said in a September 21 statement.
“Due to the size and connectivity in the region, as well as further investments in the United Group network and services, users of IKOM will have access to the latest technologies and facilities.”
SBB has submitted a request to the Commission for Protection of Competition to determine whether the deal would lead to an abuse of dominant position, the company’s statement said.
SBB is part of the United Group, Southeast Europe’s largest regional Pay TV platform, which is controlled by KKR. The company was previously owned by another private equity investor, Mid Europa Partners, which acquired a controlling stake in SBB in 2007, merging it with regional triple-play company Telemach five years later.
In March 2014, KKR wrapped up the €1bn acquisition of the United Group from Mid Europa Partners. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) co-invested €50mn alongside KKR in the transaction.
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