AT&T Closes $1.1B Sale of Central European Media Stake

John Stankey
Mike Coppola/Getty Images

John Stankey

The telecom giant had inherited the majority stake in the Prague-based TV networks operator when it acquired Time Warner.

WarnerMedia parent AT&T's $1.1 billion sale of a majority stake in Central European Media Enterprises to Czech businessman Petr Kellner's PPF Group closed on Tuesday.

AT&T, led by CEO John Stankey, decided last year to sell the asset. It had acquired the stake in the Prague-based TV networks operator when it bought Time Warner, now WarnerMedia. The company operates networks in Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Romania, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia.

The European Union earlier this month approved the Central European Media (CME) deal, with the latter's management team then saying the transaction would close this week.

Under terms of the deal, AT&T receives $1.1 billion in cash and is also relieved of a $575 million debt guarantee. "The sale is consistent with AT&T’s ongoing efforts to monetize non-core assets to drive incremental shareholder value," the telecom giant said. "The company plans to continue to focus on lowering its net debt to strengthen its balance sheet and will remain opportunistic around opportunities to further improve its borrowing costs."

Time Warner initially acquired its CME holding in 2009, paying $242 million for a 31 percent stake, which it later raised.

AT&T has been exploring the sale of non-core assets to cut its debt load, which stood at $152 billion as of midyear. The telecom giant has also been to be looking at divesting a stake of slightly more than 50 percent of satellite TV unit DirecTV.