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$820m Qatari deal for Digiturk

A Qatari firm has acquired a controlling stake in Turkish pay TV platform Digiturk, according to local press, with plans to combine it with the Al Jazeera TV network.

Qatar’s Bein Sports has acquired a 53% stake in Digiturk in what is believed to be the largest ever media deal in Turkey. The agreement will see CEO of Bein Sports, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, take on the Digiturk stake from Turkish conglomerate Curkurova Holding.

The deal has not been yet been officially confirmed but Turkish media cited an US$820m pricetag paid by the Qatari firm for a 53% stake in Digiturk, sold by Turkey’s Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF).

The deal values the pay TV operator at US$1.54bn.

Bein Sports launched in November 2003 as Al Jazeera Sport and owns the exclusive broadcasting rights in the Arab Middle East for major football leagues, such as the English Football Premier League.

In January this year, the channel rebranded to Bein Sports after Al Jazeera looked to unite its global sport channels under one name ahead of the Fifa World Cup in Brazil.

“For the Qataris, the acquisition of Digiturk serves a plethora of strategic goals, like expanding the global sports media franchise that Bein Media Group controls,” said Constantinos Papavassilopoulos, senior analyst at IHS TV Intelligence.

Papavassilopoulos added that the firm would take “full control of the most premium content in the Turkish TV market, the broadcasting on an exclusive basis of the local Sport Toto Football League matches up to 2017 – the largest generator of revenues in the Turkish pay TV business.”

Control of Digiturk, the remaining 47% of which is owned by US venture capital group Providence Equity Partners, moved up the Turkish news agenda in May 2013 when the majority stake was seized by a state insurance deposit from Cukurova.

The controlling stake in the pay TV platform has attracted international interest for some time. In September 2013, Turkish conglom Dogan Media Group submitted a US$742m bid for the stake.

That offer, which valued Digiturk at US$1.4bn, outstripped a US$530m bid by made in July 2013 by Turkey’s largest telecoms group Turk Telecom.

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