WarnerMedia-Controlled Central European Media Enterprises to Consider Sale, Merger

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WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey

The NASDAQ-listed company that runs a group of central European TV networks says its "strategic review" aims to maximize shareholder value after "five years of unparalleled growth.”

WarnerMedia-controlled Central European Media Enterprises, which runs a stable of television and other media outlets in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Romania, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia, is looking at a sale or merger.

The company, which is 75 percent owned by AT&T via its WarnerMedia unit, led by WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey, said Monday that following "five years of unparalleled growth" the time was right to look at ways to "maximize shareholder value."

The company’s stock was up 8.1 percent as of 12:15 p.m. ET.

The Hamilton, Bermuda-registered company, that includes the Czech Republic's leading commercial TV group, Nova, among its holdings, said recent growth had put it in a stronger position to look at alternatives.

A committee of independent directors will lead the strategic review to examine CME's options, the NASDAQ/Prague Stock Exchange-listed company said. "These may include, among other things, the sale of part or all of the company, a merger with another strategic partner, recapitalization, or continuing to execute CME's long-term business plan. AT&T Inc., CME's largest shareholder, supports [the] plan."

John Billock, CME's chairman, added: "After five years of unparalleled growth and impressive deleveraging, the Company has never been in better shape. We strongly believe that now is the right time to conduct this strategic review."

Last year CME made pre-tax profits of nearly $223 million on turnover of just under $704 million.

CME emphasized that the strategic review does not guarantee a sale or merger, and that there is no timetable for the process. Further details or comment would only be made if the company considers it "appropriate or necessary."

A WarnerMedia representative declined to comment further on the announcement. Sources familiar with the situation told The Hollywood Reporter that AT&T does not see its CME stake as a core holding.