Czech businessmen buyout Swedes to take control of TV Prima

Czech businessman Ivan Zach has become a majority owner of TV Prima, the second biggest commercial channel in the Czech Republic, the Czech News Agency reported on Wednesday. The Swedish company Modern Times Group has sold its 50-percent stake in TV Prima to Denemo Media, owned by businessmen Ivan Zach, who’s now got a 75-percent stake in the broadcaster with Vladimír Komár owning the remainder.

According to a press release, the price of the transaction amounts to 237.4 million euros (which is around 6.4 billion crowns).The transaction still has to be approved by the country’s Office for the Protection of Competition.

There have been speculations about the sale of Prima for several years. Finance Minister Andrej Babiš, and businessman Petr Kellner had been mentioned among the possible buyers. The Swedish group Modern Times Group acquired FTV Prima Holding in 2005 for 87 million euros. Recently, the company started to getting rid of its foreign assets, the daily Hospodářské noviny reported.

The company has already withdrawn from Hungary, Russia and Africa and started to look for buyers in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia for its assets in the Baltic States. Instead of traditional television business, the company wants to invest in digital entertainment, such as eSports.

Prima, previously known as Premiéra, started broadcasting in June 1993. It currently broadcasts on five channels in the Czech Republic and one in Slovakia. Current viewer numbers stand around 25 percent, which is approximately on the same level as public broadcaster Czech Television.

In 2015, FTV Prima group increased its profits by 48 percent year-on-year to nearly 300 million crowns, while its sales in the same period increased by seven percent to 2.8 billion crowns.

Ivan Zach, who is the sole owner of the Dermacol cosmetics company, was placed in the 48th spot on the annual list of richest Czechs published by Forbes magazine, with assets totalling 4.7 billion crowns.

Prime was last year at the centre of a media scandal after tv bosses were recorded telling staff to report negatively on immigrants coming to the country.