CME has sold its TV channels in Croatia and Slovenia for $262.5 million. Time Warner-backed CME, which operates channels throughout the Central and Eastern European region, offloaded Nova TV and Pop TV to Slovenia Broadband, which is ultimately majority-owned by U.S. private equity outfit KKR.
CME said it would use the proceeds from the sales to pay off an upcoming loan, reducing its overall debt load and saving $30 million a year in interest payments.
“This represents a transformational moment in the history of CME,” said CME Co-CEO Michael Del Nin. “We have always had a great set of assets, and this transaction underscores the enduring attractiveness of broadcasters in the region. It also moves us significantly closer to our long-held goal of establishing a more appropriate leverage profile for our operations.”
Christoph Mainusch, CME’s other co-CEO, added: “We are firm believers in the importance of television as a medium, and plan to continue operating television stations with scale in a more focused footprint of our largest markets.”
Croatia and Slovenia are the two smallest markets for CME, whose largest operations are in Czech Republic and Romania. Nova in Croatia registered year-on-year revenue and profit losses in the company’s latest results, for the quarter ending March 31, while revenue edged up at Pop in Slovenia. That came against a background of an overall revenue and profit increase at CME for the quarter, which said advertising revenue was up 9% across its footprint.
Time Warner has a 75% stake in CME and a 46.7% voting interest. It has upped its share in the company since first buying in, in 2009. The Nova and Pop deal needs regulatory approval and is expected to close by end-2017, CME said.