The Slovenia Times

KKR expects timely regulatory decision on Pro Plus takeover


No regulatory procedure in more than 50 investments the fund had made in Europe have taken more than nine months, said Ludo Bammens, the head of EMEA corporate affairs at KKR.

Noting that it had been almost nine months since the fund filed for regulatory approval, Bammens noted on the sidelines of an AmCham Slovenia event that "typically, this type of process takes between one and nine months."

He said that the fund expected a decision soon and added that KKR would report back to about 500 global investors such as pension funds and institutional investors about the situation.

"When KKR suggests to invest in a company like in this case it's not our funds that we invest ... [Investors] ask us every quarter how an investment is doing, how the country in which we invest is doing.

"So we will report back to all those global investors, about 500, what the situation is, why we think what has happened has happened and these investors will then make up their minds both about a company or about a country," Bammens said.

Brent Hartley, the US Ambassador to Slovenia, likewise expressed hope that the Competition Protection Agency (AVK) would soon make a decision on the takeover of Pro Plus, the owner of Slovenia's most popular commercial TV stations POP TV and Kanal A.

Like Bammens, Hartley pointed to other investors waiting to see how the matter resolves. If it is positive, it will be a good sign for them, he added.

KKR wants to take over Pro Plus through US media company United Group, which it owns together with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

The move was announced last July as part of a EUR 230m deal encompassing the media portfolio of CME group in Slovenia and Croatia.

If it succeeds, it will be the largest merger in media industry in independent Slovenia, because United Group already owns Telemach, Slovenia's biggest cable operator.

While the Croatian regulator has already approved the deal, the AVK has not made a decision yet. It said last month that it had discussed measures proposed by Slovenia Broadband, a subsidiary of United Group, to prevent market concentration.

The regulator would not disclose when it would make the decision, with the non-mandatory deadline expiring in mid-May.

According to a report by the newspaper Delo, the AVK is outsourcing the analysis of the impact the merger would have on TV content, advertising and online content access markets, but the contract has not been signed yet.

The regulator is also in contact with the European Commission, the paper reported today.


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