Al Jazeera plans to take majority stake in Turkish pay TV platform

Al Jazeera plans to take majority stake in Turkish pay TV platform

Al Jazeera plans to take majority stake in Turkish pay TV platform

DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah Gürel

Qatar-based TV channel Al Jazeera plans to take a majority stake of Digitürk, which was seized by Savings Deposit Insurance Fund of Turkey (TMSF) last May, according to three banking sources.

It will take advisory services from Barclays in the process, according to the sources.

Al Jazeera wants to acquire the stakes in the company mainly because Digitürk has the Super League broadcasting rights.

“Qatar really wants to access these rights. Otherwise it makes no sense for them to have a pay-Tv platform like Digitürk in Turkey, where Turkish TV and/or channels are so popular,” said one source.

Digitürk won the tender for Super League broadcasting rights in January 2010 for a yearly net payment of $321 million. But the company complained the match-fixing investigation launched in July 2011 hurt the image of Turkish football and put its business at risk. The Turkish Football Federation then agreed to extend Digitürk’s deal without renewing the tender following the complaints.

Official bids for Digitürk’s majority stakes will most probably to be collected by the beginning of next year, luring many domestic and foreign investors, including Al Jazeera, according to the sources.

Çukurova group owns a 53 percent stake in Digiturk, while Providence Equity Partners holds 47 percent. Doğan TV Holding has submitted a non-binding offer worth $742 million to buy a 53 percent stake of the company. Türk Telekom also submitted a non-binding offer to buy a 53 percent stake in the company in July, but the Çukurova Group found Türk Telekom’s $530-million offer too low, the TMSF said. Providence also submitted a non-binding offer, which had then been the highest, according to sources; Providence does not want to reduce the market value of Digitürk.

Al Jazeera has been planning to launch a Turkish language news TV channel based in the country since 2010. The company acquired the Cine 5 television channel, which was previously seized by the government, in 2011.

The channel is expected to start broadcasting in 2014 after years of preparations.