Cable and DTH still best media investment prospects in CEE

Cable and DTH still represent a solid investment prospect in central and eastern Europe, while pure-play IPTV and niche thematic channels are less attractive than they seemed to be a year ago, according to Piotr Nocen, managing partner at private-equity group Resource Partners, which recently invested in Latvian cable operator Baltkom.

Nocen, speaking at Informa’s Digital TV Central and Eastern Europe conference in Budapest yesterday, said, “I still believe people will tend to avoid risk. They will pick sectors that seem to be recession-resilient.” He said that, while niche channels were growing in importance and number, it was “hard to find an idea that people should invest in”. Lower barriers to entry as a result of digitisation meant that competitors could launch channels relatively easily, he said.
IPTV, which had seemed to offer promising prospects for private-equity investors a year ago, now seemed less attractive, said Nocen. “Pure IPTV players are either too small or they are part of larger organisations, which makes transactions very difficult,” he said.

Nocen also said mainstream commercial broadcasters could present interesting opportunities to investors in the region in the near future, despite the challenges they face from a decline in the advertising market. “There are opportunities to do transactions because some of the original owners [of these assets] have changed strategy and are looking to exit. There could be changes of [ownership], maybe not this year, but soon.”

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