Telekom Austria buys Macedonian cable operator from EQT

Reuters

* Buys leading cable operator Blizoo from Sweden's EQT

* Blizoo has 10 mln euros annual sales, 63,000 subscribers

* Deal expected to close in Q3 (Releads with details of acquisition)

VIENNA, June 23 (Reuters) - Telekom Austria has signed a deal to buy Macedonian cable operator Blizoo, a company with about 10 million euros ($14 million) in annual revenues and 63,000 subscribers, from Swedish private equity firm EQT, it said on Monday.

The acquisition will allow it to offer fixed-line broadband and television services bundled with its current mobile offering, helping it retain and attract customers.

Macedonia will become the fourth of the eight central and eastern European countries where Telekom Austria operates to offer so-called convergent fixed and mobile services after Austria, Bulgaria and Croatia.

"It is important for us that we create these chances for the whole group," Telekom Austria Chief Executive Hannes Ametsreiter told a news conference.

The two parties declined to disclose the purchase price but Ametsreiter said it was in the double-digit millions of euros. He added that Telekom Austria would finance the acquisition out of existing cash flow. The company said Blizoo was profitable.

Carlos Slim's America Movil has said it plans to use Telekom Austria, which it is taking over, as a base to build up its presence in eastern Europe.

Its $2 billion offer for the 45 percent of Telekom Austria not already owned by itself or the Austrian state ends on July 10.

Ametsreiter declined to say whether further acquisitions in the central and eastern European region were in the pipeline. "We look at all opportunities in the region," he said.

Macedonia is Telekom Austria's second-smallest market, with 630,000 subscribers, 65 million euros revenue and 15 million euros core profit in 2013. It has a market share of 28 percent.

Blizoo says it is Macedonia's largest pure-play cable operator by revenues and number of homes reached. Its biggest competitor is Deutsche Telekom, which has three times as many broadband subscribers.

The deal is subject to approval by competition regulators and is expected to close in the third quarter. ($1 = 0.7366 Euros) (Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; editing by Jason Neely and Michael Shields)

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