January 7, 2019 / 3:36 PM / in 6 months

Czech PPF gives up on buying Bulgaria's Nova after rejection by watchdog

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Czech investment group PPF said on Monday it had given up on buying Bulgaria’s Nova Broadcasting Group from Sweden’s MTG (MTGb.ST), citing rejection by the country’s anti-monopoly watchdog.

The 185 million euro ($214.77 million) deal was announced in February last year with Sweden-based MTG saying the proceeds would be used for investment in its Nordic entertainment, studios and global digital entertainment businesses.

But the Bulgarian regulator said last July it had blocked the transaction because outlets owned by Nova and PPF would give them a competitive advantage on the media services market, which might incentivise them to increase their prices, change the terms of existing contracts or restrict access to the market.

PPF owns no media outlets in Bulgaria at present but has bought telecommunications assets there as part of an acquisition of regional business of Telenor.

Sweden’s MTG owns 95 percent of Nova Broadcasting, Bulgaria’s largest commercial media group with seven TV channels and 19 online businesses. Luxembourg-registered Eastern European Media Holdings holds the remaining 5 percent, which were also due to be sold to PPF under the abandoned deal.

Reporting by Jan Lopatka

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