Struggle Ensues, Coupon Looms


Despite the long-running war between Ronald Lauder's Central European Media Enterprises and former partner Vladimir Zelezny, CME is expected to make its coupon payments tomorrow.

After the partners' split last year led to huge losses for CME, a failed acquisition and subsequent court battles, the company's outstanding bonds plummeted in price to their current distressed levels, about 35 or so, from the 75 range they hovered at in early August.

They are currently trading flat, analysts said, although there is not a whole lot of trading going on. "This company's in real trouble," a London-based analyst said. "The bonds don't really trade."

However, Bermuda-based CME, which includes a string of Central European television stations, has enough cash to make its coupon, analysts said, which are due tomorrow on two outstanding bonds, and likely to come in at roughly 8.1% and 9.3%. The bonds are rated at Caa1 and CCC-minus.

"I think they will be fine until the middle of next year," the London-based analyst said. "I think they'll make their next three coupons, then after that they're in trouble."

Meanwhile, Zelezny and Lauder will once again see each other court, as their battle over Czech-based CME station TV Nova is due to for a final judgement from an International Chamber of Commerce tribunal in the next couple of months.