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The European Union has approved 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.
AT&T, led by CEO John Stankey, had last year unveiled the plan to sell the holding to reduce its debt. It had acquired the stake in the Prague-based TV networks firm when it bought Time Warner, now WarnerMedia.
Central European Media (CME) said it expects the transaction to close on Tuesday, Oct. 13.
The company operates networks in Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Romania, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia.
Under terms of the deal, AT&T will receive $1.1 billion in cash at close and will also be relieved of a $575 million debt guarantee. The sale is “consistent with AT&T’s plans to monetize non-strategic assets as it continues to pay down debt,” the company had said last year.
Time Warner had first bought a stake in CME in 2009, acquiring 31 percent for $242 million. It later raised that stake.
AT&T has been looking at the sale of various non-core assets to reduce its debt load, which stood at $152 billion as of midyear.
The company has been understood to be looking at selling slightly more than 50 percent of DirecTV. Plus, anime outfit Crunchyroll is believed to be on the auction block as well, with Sony as a potential buyer.
However, AT&T is believed to have abandoned a previously eyed potential sale of WarnerMedia’s video gaming unit Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, which owns and develops the Mortal Kombat fighting franchise, as well as games based on intellectual property owned by the Hollywood giant.
AT&T CFO John Stephens signaled in September that the telecom giant wouldn’t sell advertising technology unit Xandr, saying “advertising continues being an important part of our business, … and that is not going to change,” including making ads more efficient with data for clients and AT&T itself. Citing a “long-term commitment” to the space, Stephens said “we’ll stay with it.”
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