Time Warner Seeks Voting Rights at Central European Media

The conglomerate holds a 49.9 percent stake in the Eastern European broadcaster, but so far allowed its founder to vote it.


MOSCOW – Time Warner is seeking European Commission approval to exercise voting rights proportionate to its 49.9 percent economic stake in Eastern European broadcaster Central European Media.

The commission is due to make a decision by June 17, CME said Wednesday. Time Warner, which had previously signaled it would follow this path, didn't comment.

The moves comes after the recent expiration of an agreement that allowed CME's founder and major shareholder Ron Lauder to vote Time Warner's stake.

A source familiar with the process told THR: “This is part of a process to transfer [Time Warner's] voting rights from Ron Lauder. When [the company] first bought a stake in 2009 Lauder was to vote [TW's] shares until this month. [The parties] extended the expiration of that agreement by about a month to give the EC time to review the transfer.”

The move comes at a time when Time Warner is focusing even more narrowly on its entertainment content divisions with the planned spin-off of the Time Inc. publishing arm.

Time Warner has been injecting cash into CME, which last month reported a fourth-quarter loss as some of its operations continued to struggle in a difficult economic and TV advertising environment.

CME owns and runs TV operations in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Slovenia. TW has said it expects CME's business to show growth once it makes it through current challenges.

The entertainment conglomerate hasn't said whether it may eventually look to take a majority stake in CME or sell its stake.