Bloomberg News

MTG Chief Says No Longer Interested in Telenor’s Canal Digital

July 19, 2012

Modern Times Group AB (MTGA), the Swedish broadcaster with operations in 35 countries, is no longer interested in acquiring or merging its Nordic satellite platform with Telenor ASA’s (TEL) Canal Digital, Chief Executive Officer Hans- Holger Albrecht said.

“To be fair we don’t see any opportunities at this stage in Scandinavia,” Albrecht said in a phone interview today. “We tried probably everything in the last 10 years” to make a deal with Telenor happen, he said.

Canal Digital operates a multiplatform television service in the Nordic region with close to 1 million households as customers, according to its website, while MTG’s Viasat Broadcasting has more than a million premium pay-TV subscribers in the Nordics through satellite or third-party networks, according to today’s second-quarter earnings statement.

Instead, Albrecht would prefer to buy assets in markets such as Africa and eastern Europe and grow MTG’s Viaplay online pay-TV service, which sells streamed content to subscribers, he said.

“What I can sense is that the industry is changing faster now and more fundamentally so new platforms like Viaplay are the key future trend, so in my opinion Telenor has missed the opportunity to do something with the asset and we would rather move on to other fields,” the CEO said.

Prime Suspects

Albrecht said MTG will consider entering new markets with one of the “prime suspects” being Africa, “but if the opportunities are for free or pay TV in eastern Europe we’re going to look at those as well.”

The Swedish broadcaster today reported second-quarter net income of 423 million kronor ($61 million), 6.8 percent lower than a year earlier, and compared with the average in a Bloomberg survey of 11 analysts of 436 million kronor.

MTG rose as much as 3 percent to 332.9 kronor, its highest intraday price since May 4, and was up 2.8 percent to 332.2 kronor as of 3:05 p.m. in the Swedish capital.

Albrecht said the outlook for the remainder the year is for continued TV advertising market growth in Sweden and Norway, while in Denmark the picture is less clear.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kim McLaughlin in Stockholm at kmclaughlin6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tasneem Brogger at tbrogger@bloomberg.net


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