DPG Media is about to sell its telecom subsidiaries and is no longer a potential fourth telecom player. Proximus, Telenet and Orange Belgium are lurking.
The media group DPG Media, the owner of VTM and Het Laatste Nieuws, among others, is working on a sale of its telecom subsidiaries Mobile Vikings and Jim Mobile. De Tijd learned this from several sources. According to our information, the three major Belgian listed telecom companies, Proximus, Telenet and Orange Belgium, are eagerly awaiting the file.
Mobile Vikings will probably change owners again after five years. The VTM parent Medialaan, which later became DPG Media, bought the telecom brand from Telenet in 2015 and merged it with Jim Mobile. That was one of the contributions of the Mechelen group to obtain approval for the acquisition of BASE.
Mobile Vikings is what is called an MVNO in telecom jargon, a mobile operator without its own network. It first fell back to that of Telenet. The switch to the Orange Belgium network followed in May 2018, while Mobile Vikings also took more and more technology into its own hands. Write-offs on old technology and investments in new ones pushed the bills into the red in 2018. But the turnaround started last year. Mobile Vikings’ turnover grew by 30 percent to 68 million euros and the gross operating profit (EBITDA) to 12 million. This year’s EBITDA is reported to be more than 15 million.
With Medialaan Mobile, Medialaan claimed in 2015 that it wanted to address itself directly to the listener, the viewer and the customer. Still, Mobile Vikings and Jim Mobile have always remained misfits in DPG Media’s strategy. Since the acquisition of Medialaan in 2017, the media company has focused on the digital transformation of its news brands and offering additional online services. The tele-computer can be easily pried out of operation. It has a separate head office and a separate company.
The sale of Mobile Vikings is a great opportunity for the three Belgian telecom operators. They can acquire more than 300,000 customers without too much additional investment in their network. For Orange Belgium, which already has customers on its network, the least would change.
If one of the operators wins the case, they can focus on selling bundles. This operator can identify which of the 300,000 mobile customers do not yet purchase digital TV, broadband internet or fixed telephony. Bundle customers are traditionally more loyal.
At the same time, a candidate for the spectrum for the fourth telecom player, which is still in the 5G auction, disappears with DPG Media. The company occasionally emerged as a contender to compete for a place on the audio spectrum. Another domestic player mentioned above is the Walloon VOO. But that too is a takeover highlight.
It is still unclear exactly when the sale will take place. Interested parties have already submitted a first, non-binding offer to the adviser KBC Securities. DPG Media does not want to comment.
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