US media company Time Warner has increased its stake in pan regional European broadcaster Central European Media (CME). Time Warner has increased its stake to 40% and will provide a US$300 million (€227 million) loan to pay the company’s debts, which are due in 2013 as CME struggles with a slower than expected pickup in advertising sales across central and eastern Europe.
Time Warner originally purchased a 31% stake in the company, which operates free-to-air and pay TV channels in Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, for US$241.5 million in May 2009. It also increased its stake to 34.4% in March 2011.
“We are taking significant steps to deleverage with support from two of our largest shareholders, Time Warner and Ronald Lauder,” chief executive officer Adrian Sarbu said. “These steps, together with the planned expansion of subscription revenues, will position the company for growth in the future.” This comes as CME announced it had narrowed its first quarter net loss to US$13.4 million from US$21.1 million last year. Revenues for the company fell 3% to US$167.4 million and operating income before appreciation and amortization declined 1.3% to US$14.1 million.