Time Warner Taking Big Step Into Central Europe

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Time Warner is dropping around $241.5 million into Central European Media Enterprises Ltd. in Central and Eastern Europe. Time Warner gets 19 million common shares in the company 14.5 million Class A and 4.5 million Class B totaling about 31% of the company.

Time Warner is agreeing to allow CME founder and Non-Executive Chairman Ronald S. Lauder to vote Time Warner’s shares of CME for at least four years, subject to certain exceptions. Also, Mr. Lauder has pledged to support Time Warner’s appointment of two of its designees to CME’s board of directors. The closing of the investment is subject to a vote of CME’s shareholders and certain regulatory approvals, and Mr. Lauder has committed to voting the shares he controls in favor of the transaction. The transaction is expected to close before the end of the second quarter of 2009.

In addition, Warner Bros. and CME have separately agreed to form a partnership to launch and operate new thematic television channels in current CME territories. These channels, some of which will be Warner Bros. branded, will feature international films and television series, including titles from Warner Bros.’ industry-leading library.

Time Warner Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bewkes said: “We believe CME is ideally positioned over the long term as Central and Eastern Europe returns to significant growth and the media sector in these countries continues to evolve. The investment advances our strategy to create, package and deliver high-quality programming on multiple platforms globally, while also meeting the financial requirements we use to assess possible investments. We believe this transaction will create value for the shareholders of both companies as we work with CME’s talented management team to achieve their business’s full potential over time.”

It’s only a matter of time before they branch out of broadcast and into online video in the region as well.


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