The American Private Investment Fund Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) has never regretted the purchase of Balkan media. It has successfully operated for several years, and its leadership includes four-star general David Petraeus, who was Director of the CIA in September 2011 – November 2012. Before retiring from military service Petraeus commanded the multinational forces in Iraq (February 2007 – September 2008), was commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan (July 2010 – July 2011).
The portal of the L’Observatoire produced a detailed investigation on Petraeus. In the “Invasion Begins” section, French journalists write: “Having passed into the world of business, the former civil servant immediately manifested himself, expanding the already impressive portfolio of KKR. Then, in 2013, the fund sent its first direct investments to Eastern and Central Europe to purchase the media company United Group (SBB / Telemach). The volume of the deal was not disclosed, but it is estimated that it exceeded one billion euros. “
UG united the largest Internet providers and cable and satellite TV operators of the former Yugoslavia, covering almost two million users. Among them were:
– SBB (Serbia Broadband) – the largest cable TV operator and Internet service provider in Serbia with 700,000 users;
– Telemach, the leading cable TV operator and Internet provider in Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH);
– Total TV – the leading satellite television network in Serbia, covering all six countries of the former Yugoslavia;
– NetTV Plus – the main provider of IPTV;
– United Media – 6 entertainment TV channels
– CASMedia, largest advertising agency on cable and satellite TV.
KKR became a co-owner of the most popular information site of Serbia Blic.rs, having bought 49% of shares of the digital division from the Swiss media group Ringier, and also launched its own regional TV network N1 TV with studios in Belgrade, Zagreb and Sarajevo, which became an exclusive partner of CNN. “Through this controversial operation, United Group has united the production of TV content with its dissemination,” notes L’Observatoire.
In 2015, KKR acquires Slovenian Tušmobil. This was the first time that a cable TV operator bought a mobile network operator. In 2017, Central European Media Enterprises (CME) was acquired in Croatia and Slovenia, including TV Nova, Croatia’s most popular channel, whose evening news release is the country’s most rated broadcast, as well as the POR-TV, whose 24hr program is the most popular in Slovenia. At the same time, United Group continued to expand its sphere of influence b taking over its competitors, including BHB Сable TV (Bosnia and Herzegovina), M-kabl (Montenegro) and Ikom (Serbia).
The “Report on the structure of ownership and media control in Serbia” provides specific examples of the opacity of the Serbian media and refers to the true owners of newspapers, magazines, radio stations and television channels. It turns out that the owners of most of the most influential media in Serbia are registered abroad – in Cyprus, Holland, the Cayman Islands, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland and so on.
David Petraeus was part of the planning and coordination of the NATO attack on Yugoslavia, which began on March 24, 1999. For this he even received a medal from NATO. Now Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) is spying on the Balkans and neighboring countries through the telecommunication systems of the region. The “Invisible Infrastructure – Data Flows” study shows that much of the Internet traffic passes through providers owned by David Petraeus and his SBB network. So all the national traffic of Serbia is controlled by the KKR, whose owners include General David Petraeus.
Recently, Norwegian group Telenor signed an agreement to sell its business in Central and Eastern Europe for 2.8 billion euros. The buyer was a Czech billionaire, owner of the PPF Peter Kelner. It is assumed that he intends to cooperate with KKR and give way to David Petraeus branches in Serbia and Montenegro, leaving behind offices in Bulgaria and Hungary. Although Telenor sells its business in four countries (Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Hungary), David Petraeus and KKR are only interested in the Serbian and Montenegrin branches of the Norwegian mobile giant.
KKR has burrowed its tentaclesdeeply in Balkans, intending to continue buying up the media and mobile communication companies in the region.
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