U.S. Senator Wants Review Of Sale Of AT&T Unit Operating In Central
February 27, 2020
Senator Marco Rubio (Republican-Florida) is asking U.S. officials to
review the national-security implications of AT&T's planned sale of its
majority stake in Central European Media Group Enterprises (CME) to a
Czech-owned conglomerate because of its record of acting as "China's
proxies" inside the Czech Republic.
In a letter dated February 27 and sent to Treasury Secretary Steven
Mnuchin and Attorney General William Barr, Rubio wrote that PPF Group,
the Czech company that is looking to buy CME, has "supported China’s
malign activities abroad."
In particular, Rubio, who is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations
and Intelligence committees and chairs the bipartisan and bicameral
Congressional-Executive Commission on China, added that PPF-owned
telecommunications firms are working with Huawei Technologies to develop
"I believe the Administration needs to conduct closer reviews of
corporate deals like AT&T’s sale of CME, and understand how the Chinese
government and Communist Party work through proxies like PPF," Rubio
wrote in the letter, which requests the Committee on Foreign Investment
in the United States (CFIUS) exercise its authority and launch a "full
review" of the national security implications of the upcoming sale.
"Failure to do so undercuts U.S. diplomatic efforts aimed at countering
the Chinese Communist Party’s political interference in foreign
governments and societies," he added.
Washington added Huawei to an economic blacklist in May, citing security
fears over the company's products.
Besides the Czech Republic, CME operates in Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia,
and Slovenia, “reaching around 97 million people,” Rubio said, adding
that the group “owns some of the most-watched news programming in
Central and Eastern Europe.”
did not immediately comment, while PPF said it appeared Rubio was
relying on "false information" from a Czech politician.
PPF said that as part of the process of acquiring CME, it is cooperating
with all the relevant regulatory bodies and providing them with "all
"The fact that we, like thousands of other Western companies, also
operate in China, does not in any way imply a contradictory worldview,"
PPF said in a statement.
"Far from it; as people who have lived a considerable part of their
lives under totalitarian communism, we deeply value freedom of
expression," it added.
Last year, AT&T announced it would sell its majority stake in CME it had
acquired in 2018.