Discreetly building a business

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Despite the fact that his businesses have reached spectacular sizes across Central and Eastern Europe, and the media has done its best to put the spotlight on him, many still don’t know who Zoltán Teszári (48) is.

Cable by cable and programme by programme, the “faceless millionaire” has built an impressive network of companies under various names, from RCS-RDS to Cable Communications Systems or Digi Hungary.

Everything started in 1992, when a group of individuals in Romania, including Zoltán Teszári, founded TVS Holding Brasov, and started to build cable networks and offer TV services in Oradea and Brasov. One year later, the businessman started the Kappa company together with his business partners, one of the most important and modern cable television networks in Bucharest at the time.

In 1996, Kappa’s shareholders split the company’s Bucharest network into two equal parts. Teszári wanted to expand operations to the rest of the country, while the other shareholders wanted to limit Kappa’s coverage to Bucharest.

After the split, Teszári used his half of the initial Kappa network, as well as his rights in the company, to merge with Analog CATV, another important cable operator in Bucharest, which changed its name into Romania Cable Systems in 1997. Also in that period, important investments were made into the development of cable systems and several internet networks were acquired in Romania and Hungary.

From 1998 to 1999, Carpathian Cable Investments and its affiliates made investments of about USD 10 million. Later, between 1999 and 2000, Celest Limited and its affiliates invested another USD 6 million. These funds were used to cover the development needs during that time.

In 2005, TVS Holding Brasov, which had offered financial and operational support to Teszári’s businesses throughout that period and was functioning as a member of the Group, merged with Romania Cable Systems.

Furthermore, in the same year, Romania Cable Systems merged with Romania Data Systems, and the resulting company changed its name to RCS & RDS. Cable Communications Systems, which later became Digi Communications, was founded in 2000 and is currently the majority shareholder of RCS & RDS.

International expansion

The group controlled by Zoltán Teszári carried out an international expansion strategy in parallel with its expansion and diversification in Romania. The international growth started at the end of 1998 in Hungary, through the acquisition of 15 small networks.

In December 2004, DTH services were launched in Romania under the DIGI brand, and over the following years mobile telecommunications services were set up in Spain and Italy, targeting large Romanian communities.

Since July 2009, Teszári’s group has had its own TV channels in Romania and Hungary. The first one was the premium sports channel, DIGI Sport. The offer now includes sports (DIGI Sport 1, DIGI Sport 2, DIGI Sport 3, DIGI Sport 4), a subscription-based film channel (Film Now), a news channel (DIGI 24), documentary channels (DIGI World, DIGI Life and DIGI Animal World), and music channels (UTV and Hora TV).

Since May 2015, the portfolio has also included radio stations like Pro FM, Music FM or Dance FM, and DIGI FM was launched in November 2015. 2017 will remain an important milestone in the history of Digi Communications, as it was the year when the company was listed on the Bucharest Stock Exchange. Also in 2017, Digi Hungary acquired Invitel, a process that was finalised on May 30, 2018.

In the first half of 2018, revenues increased by 5 percent compared to the same period of 2017, from EUR 454 million to EUR 475.8 million. Adjusted EBITDA was around EUR 153 million, up 9.1 percent from the previous year.

The company saw growth in Spain and Italy as well during the first half of the year, with a growth of over 50 percent for revenue-generating units.

According to representatives of Teszari’s company, the number of households covered by the fiber-optic network in Romania and Hungary will reach 7 million by the end of the year. Currently, Digi Communications has over 13,000 employees in Romania and a total of over 15,000 across the four countries where it operates.

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