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COLOGNE, Germany – French pay TV giant Canal+ has signed a deal to merge its Polish pay TV operations, Cyfra+, with those of local media conglomerate ITI Group. Under the deal, Cyfra+ and ITI’s pay TV operation “n” will fuse, with Canal+ taking a direct 51 percent stake in the new company. ITI’s commercial TV operation TVN will hold 32 percent with Liberty Global’s Dutch cable group UPC controlling the final 17 percent.
Canal+ has an option to buy up TVN’s 32 percent stake in the newly-created pay TV group, three or four years after the deal closes. If the French group does not exercise its option, TVN can take its share in the new pay TV operation public four years after closing.
The agreement will also see Canal+ take a stake in TVN, a commercial TV network, which has an audience share of around 16 percent in Poland.
Canal+ will pay + pay $300 million (€230 million) for a 40 percent stake in N-Vision, the holding company that controls 51 percent of TVN. ITI will control the remaining 60 percent stake in N-Vision as well as retaining its 3 percent direct holding in TVN. The remainder of TVN’s stock is in free-float.
ITI has a put option to sell Canal+ an addition 9 percent of N-Vision to Canal+, two years after signing of the current deal.
Veteran broadcasting executives Markus Tellenbach and Beata Monka have been named CEO and deputy CEO, respectively, of the new pay TV company, which is expected to reach some 2.5 million customers by the end of this year. Canal+ is forecasting a customer base of more than 3 million by the end of 2015 and operating profits (EBITDA) in excess of $160 million (550 million Polish Zloty).
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