PRAGUE, May 15 (Reuters) - Time Warner Inc. has sought European Commission approval to exercise voting rights in proportion to its 49.9 percent stake in broadcaster Central European Media Enterprises (CME) , CME said on Wednesday.
The request comes before an agreement is due to lapse at the end of June whereby Time Warner’s shareholder voting rights were exercised by CME’s founder Ronald Lauder.
The arrangement dates from the U.S. media group’s 2009 investment in the broadcaster, when they agreed that Lauder, who now owns 6.4 percent of CME, would hold Time Warner’s voting rights for at least four years.
“Time Warner requested approval from the European Commission to vote its 49.9 percent interest in CME,” CME investor relations manager Ivana Aquin said in an emailed statement.
The Commission received the notification on May 8 and has set a June 17 deadline for a decision.
Time Warner bought 31 percent of CME for $241.5 million in CME in 2009 and has gradually raised its holding in the company founded by billionaire Lauder in 1994.
Last year, it injected cash into CME, which has struggled with declining advertising markets and made a record quarterly loss at the end of 2012.
CME, which is aiming to cut its debt load of more than $1 billion, raised around $150 million in a share issue this month in which Time Warner committed to buying 49.9 percent of the shares on offer to maintain its stake.
CME also plans to sell $200 million of convertible class B preferred stock to Time Warner.
CME owns Czech commercial station TV Nova and Slovak station TV Markiza and has businesses in Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Slovenia.