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Ciner's Merkez Group acquires ATV and Sabah

ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News | 5/5/2005 12:00:00 AM |

Turkey's Savings Deposit Insurance Fund on Tuesday said it has agreed to sell the ATV television station and Sabah newspaper to Turgay Ciner's Merkez Group.

Turkey's Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) on Tuesday said it has agreed to sell the ATV television station and Sabah newspaper to Turgay Ciner's Merkez Group.

The sale is part of a larger transaction also including radio stations and magazines for which Ciner agreed to pay a total of $433 million. The properties subject to sale belonged to insolvent businessman Dinç Bilgin's Medya Group.

TMSF said in a written statement that it signed an agreement on Tuesday with Medya Group's affiliates and the Merkez Group. Under the deal, the Merkez Group must pay $18.5 million immediately and pay the remainder over a period of 10 years.

Ciner's energy company Park Enerji stood as the guarantor for the deal, Hürriyet newspaper reported Wednesday.

TSMF said the deal would secure the collection of Medya Group's outstanding liabilities. A protocol that was signed between TMSF and Medya Group in October 2000 did not outline any terms of payment or schedule after the takeover of Etibank, in which Dinç Bilgin held a controlling stake.

Ciner was already operating ATV and Sabah under a 15-year lease contract for $10 million a year.

Under the deal signed on Tuesday, Ciner's payments will be deducted from Dinç Bilgin's $600 million liabilities that are connected with Etibank's failure.

Meanwhile TMSF also has plans for Dinç Bilgin's 50 percent stake in prepaid phone card company A-Tel, which he founded jointly with Çukurova, another troubled group. According to daily Hürriyet, TMSF, which has already been effectively controlling the company, plans to sell it for around $200 million.

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