RIYADH: Global media giant News Corp is close to buying 10 percent of Saudi tycoon Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s Rotana entertainment group, a senior company official has said.
Rotana Media Services president Nezar Nagro made the remarks as he announced a 100-million-riyal ($26.7 million) distribution deal between Rotana Media Group and the Walt Disney Co.
“It’s 99 percent finished, Nagro said, adding that the deal could give Rotana – one of the pan-Arab market’s leading satellite broadcasters and film distributors – a more global reach.
“If we join with News Corp, that could also take us outside our region, he said.
Rotana owns the largest catalogue of old Arabic movies and serials and also manages popular singers and musicians.
According to Nagro, the previously unconfirmed deal could be signed in January and would probably involve News Corp buying 10 percent of Rotana for an undisclosed price.
Earlier reports said that News Corp, which is controlled by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, would have an option to buy another 10 percent of Rotana.
Meanwhile Rotana’s four-year distribution deal with Disney gives it exclusive rights to broadcast Disney movies and series over its free-to-air Fox Movies and Fox Series channels, operated with Fox International Channels, a News Corp subsidiary.
Nagro said the deal would give Rotana an advantage over the region’s leading free-to-air broadcaster, the Saudi-controlled MBC group based in Dubai, in competing for regional viewers.
“Rotana has about a 20 percent share of TV in the region’s largest markets of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, he said. “I think next year we will reach 30 percent in Saudi Arabia and Egypt because of the new deal.
Nagro also said that Rotana, wholly owned by Prince Alwaleed, could offer its shares to the public next year and list them on the Saudi stock market. -AFP