Planet TV Sold to Hungary’s TV2 Media, Associated with Orban

By , 08 Jul 2020, 09:56 AM Business

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STA, 7 July 2020 - National telco Telekom Slovenije signed a contract on Tuesday with Hungarian media company TV2 Media selling Planet TV, its subsidiary which produces the eponymous TV channel. TV2 Media will pay EUR 5 million for the 100% share, Telekom said in a press release. The deal is expected to be finalised by autumn.

Today's development confirms the previous media reports on the sale and the value of the deal.

Telekom's supervisors have already given the green light while all the other approvals are expected by the end of September.

TV2 Media is owned by Jozsef Vida, whom media associate with the business network of the Hungarian ruling party Fidesz. Speculation that TV2 is eyeing Planet TV started in early June, when reports also mentioned Croatian entrepreneur Ivan Ćaleta as a second candidate.

The news portal Necenzurirano.si also reported about unofficial plans to merge Planet TV and Nova24TV, the news portal and website associated with the ruling Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) and also in the ownership of Hungarian individuals reportedly close to Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban.

Telekom launched Planet TV in 2012 under the then SDS-led Janez Janša government. It was reported that the telecoms incumbent had been looking for a strategic partner which would buy a 49% share in the TV production company already at the beginning of January, only to change its mind later on.

According to the newspaper Delo, Planet TV has cost Telekom Slovenije EUR 80 million in the form of capital injections, advertisements, loans and other services since it was launched in September 2012, and has operated in the red.

The latest blow was the Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce ordering Telekom last year to pay a EUR 23 million buyout to Antenna Group, the Greek partner who wanted out of the joint venture.

Telekom, which thus became the sole owner of Planet TV, saw the buyout significantly reduce its profit last year, which reached a mere EUR 1.2 million.

After initially announcing the search for a strategic partner, Telekom said in mid-March that selling the outright stake in Planet TV was also an option.

According to Necenzurirano.si, some supervisors expressed great reservations about the sale at today's session. They argued they had been presented only the Hungarian bid, which was picked as the best by the Telekom management and a financial consultant.

Several bids had reportedly arrived, with the second and third best bidders allegedly offering only one euro for the company.

Unlike the other bidders, the Hungarians reportedly received an assurance from Telekom that it would continue to advertise on Planet TV. Telekom reportedly also pledged to turn EUR 30 million in loans into Planet TV's capital before the sale is completed.

Telekom also allegedly plans to write off some EUR 3 million in business claims and contribute another million to help keep Planet TV afloat.

The portal also says that Hungarians could extend the sales procedure until the end of the year, but in that case Telekom would have to transfer another EUR 2 million to cover Planet TV's loss.

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