Viaplay Sells UK Biz & Announces Equity Injection

Viaplay has sold its UK business back to Premier Sports and revealed “the renegotiation of credit arrangements and the proposed injection of new equity into the Group” as it battles the economic downturn.

Following a backs-against-the-wall few months during which the former CEO stepped down in the midst of financial strife and almost one third of staff were subsequently laid off, the publication of the Nordic outfit’s Q3 results were delayed twice.

In a statement partnering this morning’s eventual results publication, CEO Jørgen Madsen Lindemann revealed that Viaplay’s non-core UK business is being sold back to Premier Sports just a year after it was acquired for £3srcM ($38M), subject to regulatory approval. The UK business mainly incorporated the pay-TV broadcaster’s sports rights contracts including Spain’s La Liga soccer and channels along with a few technical staff who will return to Premier.

Lindemann said the “route to profitability” for operations in the UK, Baltics and Poland was “not clear or realistic,” and the latter two territories will be exited by summer 2src25. Viaplay expects to report higher full year losses  for these operations than previously thought, “due to the range of commercial initiatives that we have not been able to initiate now that we are exiting the markets.” Viaplay has also pulled streaming from the U.S.

Lindemann, meanwhile, unveiled “the renegotiation of our credit arrangements and the proposed injection of new equity into the Group” as his new-look team desperately seeks to get a handle on Viaplay’s finances. Equity will be raised via a 4B SEK ($38srcM) capital injection supported by shareholders including Canal by means of a $3srcsrcM directed share issue and $8srcM rights issue, along with a $19srcM writedown of existing debt obligations, of which $47M will be converted into equity.

Viaplay’s Q3 results showed a year-on-year sales increase of 7.4% to $434M but an operating loss of $51M, while net debt was at $318M.

Lindemann said Viaplay is “continuing to feel the pressure” due to “higher previously committed original content costs, built-in sports rights inflation and adverse currency effects.”

“We understand the current state, and future potential, of the business, our products, and our people,” he added.

“The energy, enthusiasm, and enterprise of our teams, especially in these challenging times, is fantastic to see. We have much to achieve together and the proposed recapitalisation of the business is a necessary part of resetting the Group for a much more sustainable future, where our attention and resources are focused on those markets where we can compete for the long term, and where our products are relevant, popular and generate healthy returns.”

Lindemann took over following the departure of Anders Jensen over the summer and changed the company’s course immediately, focusing on core operations and dumping the outfit’s scripted ambitions that had previously seen one original commissioned per week. The company has since laid off around one third of its staff amidst a major strategic review, which has seen financial targets revised.


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