Cyfrowy IPO may be boon for Polish pay TV

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The IPO of leading Polish pay TV group Cyfrowy Polsat provides a glimmer of hope amid the forest of bearish fiscal results and pessimistic forecasts dominating the international media industry.

Set for May 6, the float of 28% of Cyfrowy Polsat shares could raise up to 1 billion Polish zlotys, or $480 million, making it the biggest IPO in Polish history. More important, if it goes well, the float will send a positive signal to shell-shocked institutional investors.

Cyfrowy twice put off its IPO, citing global market turbulence, but CEO Dominik Libicki said now is the "optimal moment" to float and capitalize on Poland's fast-growing TV market.

Poland's TV market has largely proved resilient to the global economic downturn, with TV ad spending jumping more than 17% to $1.6 billion last year and forecasts predicting continued double-digit growth.

Pay TV subs have expanded at a similar clip. Polsat added more than 1 million subscribers last year, bringing its total to 2.2 million, by targeting the low-end market in small cities and towns. Polsat's basic pay package costs just 9 zlotys ($4.60) a month, about half the entry point for its Polish competitors.

"Compared to offerings from the two other Polish satellite platforms, Cyfrowy Polsat's starting package looks very attractive (for low-end buyers)," Screen Digest analyst Andrew Katolo said.

Scott Roxborough reported from Cologne, Germany; Mimi Turner reported from London.
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