x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Egyptian millionaire has designs on regional media

An Egyptian businessman plans to pump up to US$40 million into Middle East media acquisitions as part of an ambition to become "the media house" of the region.

An Egyptian businessman plans to pump up to US$40 million (Dh146.9m) into Middle East media acquisitions as part of an ambition to become "the media house" of the region.

Moustapha Sarhank, who made his fortune in the technology and defence sectors, said he had submitted a bid for an Egyptian newspaper, and planned acquisitions outside his home country.

He already owns a majority stake in the International Business Associates (IBA) Group, which publishes Egypt Today and Business Today magazines.

"My idea is to go for acquisitions - I'm going really very aggressively," said Mr Sarhank.

"I would like to become the media house of the Middle East ... I'll be looking at companies that have a footprint in the media sphere."

Mr Sarhank said he was considering investments worth $20m, but could pump up to $40m into media acquisitions. "I am definitely zooming in on a few targets and already signed [non-disclosure agreements]," he said.

Print and online media are both on the agenda, he said. "I'm going for newspapers. I will start with Egypt and then I will be branching out outside."

Mr Sarhank said he initiated discussions with an unnamed Egyptian newspaper, but negotiations had faltered. "The party has not accepted our offer," he said.

Mr Sarhank made his millions as part of his family business, the Sarhank Group for Investment, which reported a turnover of $3.2 billion in 2010. It has operations in the fields of defence, technology, oil and gas, agriculture and portfolio management.

Mr Sarhank, who no longer holds a management position in the Sarhank Group, purchased a stake in IBA in 2010. "During that period of time, I said that [traditional] publishing will not survive - I need to go online," he said.

Since then he has acquired stakes in a Shift E-Business, a Web design firm, and Mediawave.me, an application that recognises music and allows users to download tracks.

bflanagan@thenational.ae