EC Approves Sale of Telenor's CEE Assets to Czech Investment Group PPF

Business | July 31, 2018, Tuesday // 12:05
Bulgaria: EC Approves Sale of Telenor's CEE Assets to Czech Investment Group PPF

SOFIA (Bulgaria), July 30 (SeeNews) - The European Commission said on Monday it has approved the sale of Norwegian telecommunications group Telenor's assets in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) to Czech Republic-based investment group PPF.

"The Commission found that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns," the EU's executive body said in a statement.

The transaction includes Telenor's wholly-owned mobile operations in Hungary, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Serbia and the technology service provider Telenor Common Operation.

The Commission said it has found that the transaction "would not give rise to horizontal overlaps, as the companies' activities are confined to the different territories in which they hold their respective telecommunication licenses."

In addition, the Commission found that the vertical links between the upstream markets for wholesale international roaming and wholesale mobile and fixed call termination services and the downstream markets for retail mobile and fixed telecommunications services arising from the transaction would be unproblematic.

In March, Telenor said it has agreed to sell its assets in CEE to PPF for 2.8 billion euro ($3.3 million) on an enterprise value basis.

The CEE operations contributed approximately 11.8 billion Norwegian crowns ($1.52 billion/1.24 billion euro), or 9% of Telenor Group's revenues and 4.1 billion Norwegian crowns, or 8% of EBITDA, in 2017, the group said in March. These operations had more than 9 million customers and around 3,500 employees. 

Telenor's combined EBITDA, before other items, of its wireless units in Serbia and Montenegro increased 8.8% on the year to 719 million Norwegian crowns in the first half of 2018. In the January-June period, Telenor Bulgaria's EBITDA rose to 130 million levs ($78 million/66.5 million euro), from 124 million levs in the first half of 2017.

PPF Group is a private investment group, operating in CEE with approximately 35 billion euro of assets under its control. PPF Group invests in various sectors, including banking, consumer finance, real estate, mining and telecommunications. In February, PPF signed an agreement with Sweden's Modern Times Group (MTG) to acquire media company Nova Broadcasting Group in Bulgaria.

Telenor has had mobile operations in the CEE region for 25 years. Telenor entered the Montenegrin market in 1996 through the launch of mobile services in the country. In 2006, it acquired Mobi 063 in Serbia. Telenor acquired mobole operator Globul in Bulgaria in 2013. 

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