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CME looks poised to bid for Top TV

2007-08-07

Central European Media Enterprises looks poised to bid for Czech TV channel Top TV as part of a renewed acquisition spree according to media analysts.

Analysts say CME, whose chairman and chief shareholder is cosmetics heir Ronald Lauder, could be pursuing a strategy of buying up small businesses in an effort to consolidate the cable sector. Top TV is a relatively small channel that has suspended broadcasting as it apparently negotiates the sale.

Bermuda-based CME has made no secret of its desire to become a major player in the region through a possible merger with Polish counterpart TVN or Russian peer CTC Media.

In a research note, Prague brokerage house Wood & Co. says it sees "significant synergies in the business models of CME's Czech channels and Top TV" but expects the deal to be too small to affect the company's valuation.

CME reported second-quarter and first-half results on Aug. 2, with net revenues for 2Q up 38% to $215.3 million compared with 2006. EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) rose 38% as well, to $86.9 million compared with 2Q 2006.

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