Media-shy Czech mogul buys TV empire spanning five EU countries

Petr Kellner, one of his rare photos. []

The PPF investment group owned by Petr Kellner, who keeps a low profile despite being the Czech Republic’s wealthiest man, confirmed on Monday (28 October) it had sealed a deal for the CME media group running 30 TV stations in five Central European states.

While PPF did not provide the value of the transaction, Czech media have put it at $2.1 billion (€1.9 billion).

According to Martin Cakl, an analyst at Prague-based investment bank Patria Finance, CME is worth around $2.3 billion.

CME runs TV channels in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, with an audience about 45 million viewers.

“CME is a healthy and well-run organisation and we do not intend to make any significant changes to its operations,” Kellner said in a statement.

PPF invests in financial services, telecoms, real estate and biotechnology worldwide and puts its assets at over €45 billion.

It said the acquisition would be financed by equity and 1.15 billion euros in debt underwritten by BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Crédit Suisse, HSBC, Société Génerale and UniCredit.

The transaction is subject to approval by CME shareholders, the European Commission and national market regulators, PPF said.

Founded in 1994 with the launch of the Czech commercial station TV Nova, CME is based in the British overseas territory of Bermuda and listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market and the Prague Stock Exchange.

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