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MTG sells Bulgaria’s Nova Group

MTG has sold its 95% shareholding in Nova Broadcasting Group in Bulgaria in a deal that values the full business at €185 million (SEK 1.83 billion).

Jørgen Madsen Lindemann

MTG sold its Nova stake to PPF Group, the investment company controlled by Czech billionaire and businessman Petr Kellner, with the deal forming part of MTG’s ongoing strategic transformation from a “traditional national broadcaster to a global digital entertainer”.

MTG said it will use the proceeds from the sale to invest in its digital entertainment business, as well as in its Nordic Entertainment and MTG Studios divisions – which it was due to sell to Danish telco TDC before the deal collapsed last week.

Commercial media group, Nova, employs 650 people and the business consists of seven TV channels and 19 online businesses, which together generated SEK 991 million in sales and SEK 195 million in operating income for full year 2017.

“We have built Nova into Bulgaria’s number one commercial media group with 33% commercial share of viewing, and ownership of some of the country’s top digital brands,” said MTG CEO Jørgen Madsen Lindemann, who also paid tribute to Nova CEO Didier Stoessel.

“MTG’s investments are focused on our Nordic Entertainment, Studios and global digital entertainment verticals, which is why we have found a new home for our Bulgarian employees with a partner that will invest in Nova’s future.”

“We wish Didier and the whole Nova team every continued success. This will bring to a close the disposal of our international entertainment operations and leaves MTG as a more focused group, which is in line with our previously stated strategy.”

With the deal, MTG has effectively sold off all of its traditional TV assets – except for its content production arm MTG Studios and Nordic Entertainment, which runs platforms like Viafree, Viaplay and Viasat, as well as ad-funded Scandinavian TV channels.

Earlier this year MTG agreed to sell its 75% stake in youth broadcaster Trace in a deal that valued 100% of the business at €40 million. Last year it also sold its Czech TV assets for €116 million and its Baltic broadcasting business for €100 million.

Over the same period, MTG has bulked up its digital arm, MTGx, by investing in companies like browser-based games firm InnoGames and US games publisher and developer Kongregate.

MTG’s plan to sell Studios and Nordic entertainment to TDC was scuppered after TDC accepted a €5.4 billion takeover offer from a consortium of bidders. The offer was contingent on the earlier announced MTG-TDC deal not proceeding.

MTG first entered Bulgaria in 2007 by investing in Balkan Media Group Limited, which operated the Diema TV channels. It later acquired Nova in 2008.