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Murdoch's Bulgarian TV Station to Sell 55% to CME in EUR 500 M Deal - Report

Date: 29.09.2009

bTV sale would be the third large deal on the Bulgarian TV market for the last two years after the US Central European Media Enterprises bought the cable TV2 and Ring for EUR 110 M, and the Swedish MTG Group acquired Nova TV for EUR 620 M. Bulgaria's first national private television bTV, wholly owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, is considering the sale of a 55 % stake to the US company Central European Media Enterprises, according to unofficial information.

The media tycoon is reported to have nearly sealed the deal, whose price is believed to be about EUR 500 M.

The future acquisition of the remaining 45 % stake in the station has not been ruled out.

The sale would be the third large deal on the Bulgarian TV market for the last two years after the US Central European Media Enterprises bought the cable TV2 and Ring for EUR 110 M, and the Swedish MTG Group acquired Nova TV for EUR 620 M.

Talks about the upcoming sale of the TV station first emerged in July last year. Rupert Murdoch's News Corp NWSa.N first hired Lehman Brothers LEH.N to ascertain the value and strategic options for three Eastern European television stations - wholly owned properties in Latvia, Serbia and Bulgaria - after being approached by multiple suitors.

According to reports the properties were not doing poorly, but the company had decided to hire Lehman after the suitors' approaches.

At least seven big suitors, including the Colon-based German TV RTL, said they were considering buying the portfolio of Bulgaria's largest and most successful TV station a year ago. Initially the price was set at EUR 1,1 B, but eventually shrank to EUR 750 M. The offers, however, dried up with the onset of the global financial crisis.

bTV recently announced the launch of two theme channels by the end of the year - bTV Comedy, which will succeed the cable GTV, and bTV Cinema, which will seek to complement and enhance the programme proposals of the broadcaster.

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