Al Jazeera weighs bid for stake in $1 billion Turkish pay-TV company

Wed Dec 18, 2013 7:18am EST
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By Dinesh Nair and Asli Kandemir

DUBAI/ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Qatari-backed broadcaster Al Jazeera is considering a bid for a majority stake in Turkish pay-TV company Digiturk to boost its soccer offering ahead of the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar, banking sources familiar with the plans said on Wednesday.

A number of potential buyers have shown an interest in Digiturk since a 53-percent stake in the company was seized by Turkey's Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) from Cukurova Holding in May because of the conglomerate's debts to the state agency.

Al Jazeera's interest stems from Digiturk's $321 million-a-year deal for exclusive rights to Turkey's Super League championship, one of the sources said.

"It's really the football rights that differentiates Digiturk from others, and the Qataris are keen to get that access," the source said. "Otherwise, it does not make any sense for them to look at a business in a country where the local language is so dominant."

Digiturk has a market capitalization of $1 billion and about $500 million of debt, two of the sources said, giving it an enterprise value of about $1.5 billion.

Al Jazeera, which operates under the patronage of the emir of Qatar and his family, has appointed Barclays Capital to assist with its bid, the sources added.

TMSF declined to comment on a stake sale and an Al Jazeera spokesman was not available to comment.


The logo of Al Jazeera Media Network is seen at the MIPTV, the International Television Programs Market, event in Cannes April 2, 2012. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard