Ireland-Based Соmmunісоrр Media Group Sells the Largest Radio Group in Bulgaria to Its Management for €5.4 M

Ireland-Based Соmmunісоrр Media Group Sells the Largest Radio Group in Bulgaria to Its Management for €5.4 M

Соmmunісоrр Grоuр Bulgaria, which includes BG Radio, Radio 1, Radio 1 Rock, Energy, Nova, Veronica and City Radio and TV channel, is now fully owned by its Bulgarian management team after a €5.4 M management buyout deal. A new holding company, Fresh Media Bulgaria, was set up to execute the deal, which also included the office building on Riccardo Vaccarini Street in Sofia where the operations of the group are based. The new owners secured the financing with a bank loan from First Investment Bank. The ten companies that hold the frequencies of the group’s seven radio stations and one TV channel are pledged as collateral for the loan.

According to Adrian Serle, CEO of the Irish seller, Соmmunісоrр Grоuр is leaving Bulgaria despite the stable performance of their business in the country to focus on new opportunities on the radio and digital services market in the UK and Ireland where it has 8 radio stations and holds fourth place by market share. Bulgaria was the last country where the company had investments outside of the UK, previously selling all its assets in Hungary, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Estonia and Latvia between 2012 and 2015.

The new company is owned by Nikolay Yanchovichin, who will act as Executive Director, and Atanas Genov. This is the duo that has managed Соmmunісоrр’s radio stations in Bulgaria so far.  A third owner in the company will be Hristin Strizhlev, former Executive Director of Radio Fresh and Mila Gold, member of the Managing Board of the Bulgarian National Radio, and currently a member of the Board of Directors of Media Group Bulgaria, the publisher of the most popular daily newspaper in Bulgaria – 24 hours.

Соmmunісоrр created the largest radio group in the country after acquiring the Bulgarian business of the US-based Metromedia in 2004 for $14.25 M and subsequently expanding it by buying other radio stations and obtaining licenses for new frequencies. Currently, the group is the local market leader and, according to various consumer surveys, has a share of between 27% and 34%. It has staff of about 100 people. The new management announced it will focus on the development of digital audio channels and new program content. The opening of more regional advertising offices is also planned, in addition to the existing ones in Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna.

The shrinking advertising market, where TV channels absorb virtually all electronic media ad revenue, has contributed to one of the last two major international players leaving Bulgaria. The one remaining is Central European Media (CME), which has five radio stations: bTV Radio, N-Joy, Z-Rock, Jazz FM, and Classic FM, together with the bTV family of television channels. According to industry sources, CME is looking for a buyer for its entire Bulgarian business, which could potentially leave the radio market without any foreign participation.

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