Former NBCU Int’l prexy Peter Smith has been appointed managing director of Antenna Group, the largest media company in Greece, in a clear sign that the privately owned outfit founded by Greek shipping magnate and billionaire Minos Kyriakou is stepping up its expansion plans across south-east Europe.
The appointment of Smith, who more recently held the position of chief exec. of Cineflix Studios, comes as Antenna recently closed deals involving PRVA Televizija in Serbia, PRVA Montenegro, and Planet TV in Slovenia.
The group with offices in Amsterdam, London, Athens and New York distributes content in over 40 countries. It has been buying TV assets in Eastern Europe and the Balkans and turning them into highly profitable operations for years.
“Pete Smith is joining Antenna as we embark on the next ambitious stage of our growth strategy,” said Theodore Kyriakou, Chief Executive of Antenna, in a statement.
“His 25-year track record in film and television will be invaluable as we consider steps to extend our international media operations. Pete will manage our expansion and help us in creating or buying new and exciting digital assets,” he added.
Antenna invests in media content and distribution assets, aiming to gain a high return-on-investment through a combination of management expertise, production and marketing skills, and rights’ negotiations savvy.
Among its recent moves, Antenna transformed PRVA into the market leader in the Serbian commercial television market after acquiring the former Fox Televizija free-to-air network from News Corp. It extended the PRVA brand in 2011 to Montenegro, where it acquired the Pro TV/FM and built it into the country’s fourth most widely-watched channel. In Slovenia, Antenna in 2013 formed a joint venture with Telekom Slovenije to operate and develop Planet TV, which has doubled its audience numbers over the past 6 months.
The group’s successful investment strategy follows its turnaround of Nova TV in Bulgaria, which it acquired for $3.6 million in 2000 and sold for Euros 620 million ($846 million) in 2008, touted as one of the largest returns-on-investment ever in the European media sector.
“I am looking forward to working with Theo and the team and developing Antenna’s strong presence in television channels, production and digital entertainment,” said Smith. “The group has exciting plans for the future, building on the strategic platform established in recent years. I will particularly focus on looking for alliances and opportunities in channels, rights and digital assets across Europe.”