Scripps Networks Interactive has agreed to buy a majority stake in Polish television company TVN, in a €584m deal that continues the US media group’s push into Europe.
The purchase follows several rival US broadcasters that have invested in Europe, keen to diversify away from their home market where cable TV penetration is high and advertising revenues are under pressure.
“This transaction is an important milestone in the ongoing strategic development of our international business, and provides us with substantial further scale in Europe,” said Scripps chief executive Kenneth Lowe.
“Poland is a vibrant media market with significant growth potential . . . We’re looking forward to working with the whole TVN team to achieve our significant ambitions in the region together,” Mr Lowe said in a statement.
The deal reinvigorates Scripps’ European ambitions, after it was reported to have bid for the UK's Channel 5 last year and to have sought to increase its shareholding in UKTV, the British group that is part-owned by the BBC.
Scripps, owner of the Food Network and Travel Channel, will buy a 52.7 per cent stake in TVN held by French media conglomerate Vivendi, through its Canal+ unit, and Polish investment group ITI, which has been looking to offload its joint stake since late last year.
The all-cash deal, which is subject to Polish regulatory approval, will also see Scripps take on debt of €840m. The US group said it would look to launch a public tender to increase its stake in TVN, as required by Polish law.
The deal marks the end of Vivendi’s three-year investment in TVN that came as part of a deal which made Poland the French company’s second-largest market.
Other bidders for the stake included Discovery Communications and Time Warner, although the latter’s previous investment in the region, central European Media Enterprises, has proved problematic.
TVN is one of Poland’s largest private broadcasters, with a 22 per cent share of viewers last year. Its portfolio includes rolling 24-hour news, a business channel, and a suite of lifestyle and entertainment channels.
The deal comes days after Polish daily Rzeczpospolita reported that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp was interested in bidding for broadcasting rights to Poland’s domestic football league.
Scripps Networks Interactive’s financial advisers for the transaction were Barclays and Blackstone Advisory Partners.
Additional reporting by Henry Mance in London
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