Advent buys €30m Hungarian radio station

Mezzanine Management provided debt capital, investing from its dedicated Central and Eastern European fund, Accession Capital Management.

( Private equity firm Advent International today announced it bought out UK commercial radio broadcasting group GWR’s interest in Danubius Radio of Hungary in a €30m transaction.

Debt financing for the deal is being provided by Mezzanine Management Central Europe, which invested from its Accession Mezzanine Capital fund, which last year held a first closing on E76m.

Hungarian commercial radio station Danubius broadcasts popular music nationwide, targeting the 18-49 year old age group. With an average weekly audience share of 33 per cent, Danubius generated revenues of $12.4m in 2002. The station’s licence has been extended to 2009.

Hungary’s advertising market has tripled in size since broadcasting liberalisation in 1997. According to a statement, Advent believes that with EU accession next year, advertising spending in Hungary will increase further and radio’s share of advertising spending is set to grow.

“This is an excellent opportunity to build on one of Hungary’s great brands,” Advent International director George Swirski said in the statement. “Danubius has very talented people across all its operations. We shall work together with them to expand services to advertisers, broaden the audience base, and build on the station’s identity.”

Advent International has invested and supported many media businesses in Europe, including German cable TV business Primacom, Polish radio station RadioZet, Zone Vision, a pan-European channel broadcaster and programme distributor, and pan-Scandinavian broadcasting business Scandinavian Broadcasting Systems.

Advent is one of the most active investors in the belt of emerging markets on the European fringe. Earlier this month, the firm teamed up with Turkish buyout firm Turkven to acquired Unmas, a bakery chain in Turkey.

However, Advent has been forced to endure a roller coaster ride in its protracted bid to acquire Bulgarian state-owned telecommunications asset BTC. The transaction was scrapped at the eleventh hour earlier this month when the Bulgarian Privatisation Agency rejected the bid of Advent’s wholly owned subsidiary, Vienna-based Viva Ventures, for the states 65 per cent stake in BTC and resumed negotiations with the second place bidder, the all-Turkish consortium Koc Holding-Turk Telecom.

The Bulgarian Supreme Administrative Court then stepped in to suspend the negotiations with the Turkish bidder after Advent initiated legal action against the Agency.

Media reports now indicate Advent may be prepared to improve on its €210m bid in order to sweeten the deal.