Sweden’s MTG Cancels Sale of Bulgaria’s Nova TV

Sweden's MTG terminated its agreement to sell Bulgaria's largest media conglomerate, Nova Broadcasting Group, to Czech businessman Petr Kellner after the Bulgarian competition watchdog blocked the sale.
MTG’s president and CEO, Jorgen Madsen Lindeman. Photo: MTG Group. 

Swedish entertainment group MTG, the biggest shareholder in Bulgaria’s largest media conglomerate, consisting of Nova TV and Nova Broadcasting Group, announced on Monday it has terminated its agreement to sell its share to the Czech PFF Group, owned by businessman and media mogul Petr Kellner.

The move comes after a decision in July by the Bulgarian Commission on Protection of Competition, CPC, to prohibit the signing of the deal alongside another deal that stirred controversy – the sale of the Bulgarian assets of the Czech energy giant CEZ to a Bulgarian family-owned company, Inercom.

The CPC decision was challenged in court, but the case was scheduled to be heard in May 2019, way beyond the expiry of a deadline under the sale and purchase agreement that was signed in February 2018, MTG announced in a press release

The sale of 95 per cent of MTG’s shares in Nova Broadcasting to the firm owned by Kellner had an estimated price tag of 185 million euros.

Now the Swedish-based company announced it has entered negotiations with other potential bidders. 

Jorgen Madsen Lindemann, president and chief executive officer of MTG, was quoted in the press release as saying that the company is looking forward to “discussions with the new potential buyers about the future of this well-established, well-placed and well-managed business”.

The Czech conglomerate has still not commented on the decision. 

In July, the CPC ruled that the possible acquisition of Nova Broadcasting Group, which controls around 30 to 40 per cent of the TV market in Bulgaria and thus has leading positions in the media services market, “raises the question of the effect of the deal on the said market”.

According to the anti-monopoly body, the number of media outlets owned by Kellner’s conglomerate and Nova Broadcasting Group would give them a competitive advantage on the media services market, which might further encourage the new conglomerate to increase prices, change the terms of existing contracts or restrict access to the market by new players.

“Taking into account the above-mentioned details… there are reasons to believe that the deal would lead to boosting market dominance, which would impede market competition,” the CPC concluded at the time.

Read more:

Czech Mogul to Buy Bulgaria’s Top Media Group

Bulgaria’s Regulator Blocks CEZ and Nova TV Deals