MTG gives up sale of Bulgarian assets to Czech PPF Group, starts talks with new candidates

By bne IntelliNews January 8, 2019

Swedish Modern Times Group (MTG) said it has terminated a deal to sell its Bulgarian unit, Nova Broadcasting Group, which includes Nova TV, to Czech PPF Group and will start talks with other candidates.

In February 2018, MTG signed an agreement with PPF Group, a holding controlled by Central Europe’s richest man Petr Kellner, on the sale of a 95% stake in its Bulgarian company Nova Broadcasting Group for €185mn.

However, in July, the deal was banned by Bulgaria’s competition watchdog CPC, which expressed concerns about the effect of the transaction on the competitive environment of the market as well as about the horizontal overlap of participants' activities in the concentration of the online trading market.

“[T]he previously announced agreement to sell MTG’s shareholding in Nova Broadcasting Group to PPF Group has been terminated, and MTG has entered into discussions with other interested parties regarding the sale of its shareholding in Bulgaria’s largest commercial media group,” MTG said in a press release on its website.

It explained that the deal was cancelled due to the ban imposed by the Bulgarian authorities, as well as the long-stop date for completion of the deal has expired.

The Swedish company had been trying to sell its Bulgarian business for few years for some €100mn, but has previously failed to find an appropriate buyer. It entered the Bulgarian market in 2007, acquiring the Diema TV channels. A year later, it bought Nova TV for €620mn.

In 2018, PPF completed the acquisition of Telenor’s business in four CEE countries, Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro and Hungary.

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