EBRD-backed United Group plans €600 million investment in Western Balkans

EBRD-backed United Group plans €600 million investment in Western Balkans

EBRD-backed United Group plans €600 million investment in Western Balkans

The FINANCIAL -- The EBRD has welcomed the announcement by United Group that it will invest over €600 million in south-eastern Europe over the next five years. The leading private multi-play telecoms and media provider, founded in 2000 by local entrepreneur Dragan Šolak, will use the money to build on its positive track record of investing in local infrastructure, creating jobs and unlocking business opportunities.

Hosting the 2018 EBRD Annual Meeting and Business Forum in Jordan, the President of the EBRD, Sir Suma Chakrabarti, met with Dragan Šolak, the group chairman of the board at United Group, to discuss energising economic growth in the region.

Speaking at a joint panel discussion alongside United Group senior executives at the 2018 Annual Meeting, Alain Pilloux, EBRD Vice President, Banking, said: “Our engagement with United Group and the cooperation with majority owner KKR is a real success story. Our shared commitment to the region and achievements to date make us very confident as we look to the future, especially as United Group continues to invest in the region.”

Dragan Šolak added: “Over 14 years we have built up a trusted relationship with the EBRD, whose support has been invaluable in helping United Group to thrive and support the region’s wider economic success.”

The EBRD is a major investor in south-eastern Europe with approximately €1 billion of new projects each year. Supporting regional integration through infrastructure investments and a focus on connectivity is one of the Bank’s priorities in promoting economic growth and living standards.

United Group has led the development of the region’s digital infrastructure and increased connectivity across the region by laying over 15,000 km of fibre-optic cable and reaching 1.77 million homes and supporting 50,000 businesses, according to the EBRD.

It is also a major employer, with a workforce numbering more than 3,400 across disciplines including engineering, production, software development and journalism.

The EBRD and United Group have been partners since 2004. In that time United Group has grown from a small cable company to the largest regional multi-play telecoms and media company, providing services across markets such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, FYR Macedonia,Montenegro,Serbia and Slovenia.

In 2004 the EBRD invested in SBB – a cable network and internet service provider in Serbia and Montenegro. In 2009 the merger of SBB with telecoms companies Telemach Slovenia and Telemach Bosnia led to the establishment of United Group. In 2014 the global investment firm KKR became the majority owner of United Group, with the EBRD retaining a minority stake.