May 13, 2019 / 8:25 AM / a month ago

Balkan cable company United Group to boost telcoms investment

SARAJEVO, May 13 (Reuters) - Balkan telecoms and media company United Group B.V. plans to expand in its markets in southeastern Europe and invest 700 million euros ($786.4 million) over five years there, the company’s CEO told Reuters in an interview.

“Our plans have accelerated, so we’ve been investing (at an) even ... higher (rate) than we originally planned in (the) telco business,” CEO Victoriya Boklag said in a phone interview.

The company’s revenues grew 20 percent to nearly 650 million euros in 2018, she said.

Founded in 2000, the group operates in the six ex-Yugoslav nations and has nearly 3.8 million active accounts in its television, internet and telephony segments. It employs 4,500 people, 70 percent of whom work in its telecoms division.

Private equity firm BC Partners in March completed the acquisition of a majority stake in United Group from KKR , in one of the biggest private equity deals in the region. KKR retained a substantial minority stake.

The company operates fixed networks in four out of its six markets, a mobile network in one and is looking to boost distribution of its content through digital platforms such as YouTube.

The company, however, faces challenges in obtaining licences in both its media and telecoms business as it goes up against government-owned rivals, Boklag said. ($1 = 0.8902 euros) (Reporting by Maja Zuvela, editing by Deepa Babington)

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