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UPDATE 1 - Bulgaria's Advance Media Group gets nod to buy Nova Broadcasting Group

Author Mario Tanev
UPDATE 1 - Bulgaria's Advance Media Group gets nod to buy Nova Broadcasting Group Author: espensorvik. License: Creative Commons, Attribution 2.0 Generic.

SOFIA (Bulgaria), March 22 (SeeNews) - Bulgaria's Commission for Protection of Competition said on Friday that it has given approval to local Advance Media Group to acquire 100% of Nova Broadcasting Group from Swedish entertainment company Modern Times Group (MTG) and Luxembourg-registered Eastern European Media Holdings.

Both Nova Broadcasting Group and the group to which Advance Media Group belongs are active in several market segments, but there is no evidence that the acquisition will lead to the establishment or strengthening of a dominant market position, the competition regulator said.

The only market segment on which both Advance Media Group and Nova Broadcasting Group are simultaneously active is the television content market. Football Pro Media, which is part of the economic group to which Advance Media Group belongs, offers the rights to air sporting events, while Nova Broadcasting Group airs such events. 

However, there is a large number of content providers on the segment from which other broadcasters can choose, the anti-trust authority said.

The transaction is expected to be closed in April, MTG said in a statement later on Friday.

"We are very pleased that regulatory approval has been granted for this deal with Advance Media Group and we look forward to close it as soon as possible," Joergen Madsen Lindemann, MTG's president and CEO, said.

Last month, MTG said that it has agreed to sell its 95% shareholding in Nova Broadcasting Group to Advance Media Group in an all cash deal, which values the company at 185 million euro ($209 million). 

The proceeds from the sale will be used to develop MTG’s global digital entertainment verticals through organic investment and mergers and acquisitions, the Swedish company explained at the time.

"This transaction is in line with our strategic decision to find new owners to invest in our international entertainment operations, while we focus on our global digital verticals," Joergen Madsen Lindemann, MTG President and CEO, said.

In January, MTG decided to terminate its agreement to sell Nova Broadcasting Group to Czech-based investment group PPF.

"The termination of the agreement with PPF Group follows the decision by the Bulgarian Commission for the Protection of Competition to disallow the proposed sale to PPF Group, as well as the expiration of an extended long-stop date under the sale and purchase agreement," MTG said at the time.

Nova Broadcasting Group comprises seven TV channels, as well as complementary online businesses that reach on average 74% of the Bulgarian population on a monthly basis, according to the statement. In 2018, the company generated sales of 1.15 billion Swedish crowns ($124 million/109 million euro) and earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) of 223 million Swedish crowns. 

Nova Broadcasting Group employed 650 people at the end of 2018.

Advance Media Group is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Advance Properties, which in turn is jointly owned by Bulgarian investors Kiril Domuschiev and Georgi Domuschiev. Advance Properties owns 117 companies across 23 countries, according to MTG's statement.

MTG entered Bulgaria in 2007 via the acquisition of Balkan Media Group Limited, which operated the Diema TV channels. In 2008, MTG bought Nova. In Bulgaria, Nova Broadcasting Group's main rival is BTV Media Group, owned by Bermuda-registered Central European Media Enterprises.

($ = 0.8843 euro)