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United Group plans new services across former Yugoslavia

L-R: Robert Knorr, Cameron Munter, Dragan Šolak & SBB's Dragica Pilipović Chaffey

L-R: Robert Knorr, Cameron Munter, Dragan Šolak & SBB’s Dragica Pilipović Chaffey

Mid Europa Partners-backed pay TV operators including Serbian cable leader SBB, Telemach Slovenia, Telemach BiH in Bosnia-Herzegovina, satellite operator Total TV and 15 smaller companies will begin operating as United Group from Wednesday May 1.

The group, which is majority-owned by Mid Europa Partners and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, plans to develop a series of joint initiatives for customers across the region’s borders, the first of which, free fixed phone calls between SBB, Telemach Slovenia an Telemach BiH customers, goes live on Wednesday.

United Group’s networks currently serve 1.65 million residential and business users, with about 10,000km of fibre-optic networks across the three countries. United Group companies generated revenues of €180 million in 2012, with capital expenditure across the region totaling €50 million.

Dragan Šolak will serve as the group’s chairman and managing board, with Marko Šter serving as CEO at Telemach Slovenia and Željko Batistić as CEO at Telemach BiH. Cameron Munter, a former US ambassador to Belgrade, will join the group as senior advisor to the board.

At a press conference to mark the launch, Šolak highlighted the ability of the group to benefit from scale in negotiating directly with TV rights owners and in investing in technology.