Modern Times Group MTG AB (publ.) (‘MTG’ or ‘the Group’), the international entertainment group, announced on February 25 that it has signed an agreement to acquire 75% of Trace Partners SAS (‘Trace’), the France-based youth media brand and global pay-TV channel operator that has distribution agreements with third party network operators in 160 countries worldwide, including all 55 countries in Africa. The stake is being acquired from Citizen Capital, Entrepreneur Venture, NextStage, and company management, for a cash consideration that values 100% of the company at an enterprise value of €40 million. Trace management will retain the remaining 25% of the company. Olivier Laouchez, Trace Co-founder, will continue as Chairman and CEO of Trace, and the other members of the senior management team will also continue in their roles.
Trace operates three music TV channels – ‘Trace Urban’, ‘Trace Tropical’ and ‘Trace Africa’ – and the ‘Trace Sports Stars’ sports celebrity lifestyle TV channel.
‘Trace Urban’ is available in 130 countries worldwide, and is the leading music channel in 60 markets. The channel is focused on urban music and culture from a wide range of genres including R&B and hip hop, and is particularly popular across Africa, in France and the Caribbean. ‘Trace Africa’ and ‘Trace Tropical’ are focused on African urban and World music, and Latin American and Caribbean music genres, respectively. ‘Trace Sports Stars’ is available in 108 countries worldwide and features programming about the lives of local and international sports stars. The four Trace channels are localised in 16 different feeds and are available in up to 11 languages.
Trace also runs a number of complementary branded entertainment businesses, including the annual ‘Trace Music Awards’; the ‘Trace Stars’ mobile song competition, which is the first of its kind and was recently launched in Africa; and ‘Trace FM’, which is the leading FM radio music station in the French Caribbean. Trace’s recently launched mobile and digital assets are also developing fast with ‘www.trace.tv’ (the online entertainment portal), ‘My Trace’ (the smart personalised video music service) and ‘Trace Mobile’ (the youth oriented mobile offering that has been developed in partnership with a number of leading mobile network operators).
Trace has generated 23% compound annual net sales growth over the five years to the end of 2013 and reported preliminary net sales of €19.3 million for the full year 2013. Trace generates almost half of its revenues in Africa and other Emerging Markets. The company had 37 million paying subscribers as at the end of December 2013, up from 27 million at the end of 2012, and also generates a growing proportion of its sales from advertising, events, content and brand licensing.
The transaction is subject to regulatory approval by the French media authorities and MTG will consolidate Trace’s results in the Group’s accounts with effect from the closing of the transaction.