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MTG acquires Trace

Scandinavia’s Modern Times Group (MTG) is to acquire 75% of France-based global pay-TV operator Trace in a deal that values the company at €40m (US$55m).

Trace operates three music TV channels – Trace Urban, Trace Tropical, Trace Africa – the Trace Sports Stars sports celebrity lifestyle TV channel.

The four networks are localised in 16 different feeds and are available in up to 11 languages, with R&B and hip hop-focused Trace Urban having the largest reach – currently 130 countries, ranking the leading music channel in 60 of these, according to MTG.

Trace Sports Stars, meanwhile, is available in 108 countries worldwide and features programming about the lives of local and international sports stars.

Trace Africa and Trace Tropical are focused on African urban and world music, and Latin American and Caribbean music genres, respectively.

MTG, which last years snapped up production and distribution businesses including Nice Entertainment, DRG and Novemberfilm, is paying cash for its 75% share in Trace.

Trace management will retain the remaining 25% of the company. Olivier Laouchez, Trace co-founder, will continue as chairman and CEO and the other members of the senior management team will also carry on in their roles.

Trace generated 23% growth in compound annual net sales over the five years to the end of 2013 and reported preliminary net sales of €19.3m last year. Almost half its revenues come from 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.

“Trace is a cool and contemporary entertainment brand, and one of the leading youth brands in Africa,” said MTG exec VP of African operations Joseph Hundah.

“It fits perfectly with what we are doing both in Africa and, more broadly, with both our linear and digital operations, as well as our content production houses.

“This deal is another key milestone in our international expansion and provides us with footholds from which we can expand even more in Europe, South America, Asia and francophone countries around the world.”

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