x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

News Corp considers price of Rotana stake

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp is considering paying between US$250 and $350 million for its 20 per cent stake in Prince Alwaleed bin Talal's Rotana media empire.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp is considering paying between US$250 million (Dh918.2m) and $350m for a 20 per cent stake in Prince Alwaleed bin Talal's Rotana media empire, according to Variety magazine. The US weekly reported that News Corp and Rotana were meeting in London about the deal, and had been in talks since the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. Executives also met in Cairo this summer to conduct due diligence and try to reach a value on the stake News Corp planned to take in Rotana. "The deal hasn't closed yet, but the signs are promising," one Rotana executive, who wished to remain anonymous, told Variety. "If it goes through, this will be all positive for Rotana. We will be able to draw on the expertise of people from News Corp and its Fox division in the Middle East." The deal would strengthen the relationship between Mr Murdoch and Prince Alwaleed, who owns a 5.7 per cent stake in News Corp through his investment vehicle, Kingdom Holdings. It would also deepen the connections between News Corp and Rotana, which launched two channels with News Corp's Fox International Channels last year. As the first major News Corp investment in the Middle East, the deal would also boost the international media conglomerate's presence in the region, which is one of its last untapped markets. Twentieth Century Fox, which is owned by News Corp, is now casting for its first Arabic-language feature film, Samba, about a Moroccan man obsessed with a Brazilian TV melodrama who teaches a samba class full of young women eager to woo him. It is being made by Hicham Ayouch, the Moroccan filmmaker who met Fox officials at last year's The Circle Conference in Abu Dhabi. Mr Ayouch was granted the conference's $100,000 Sasha Grant, which was presented by Jim Gianopulos, the chairman and chief executive of Fox Filmed Entertainment. Rotana is a major force in Middle East media with holdings in print, television, radio, film, digital and most notably music, in which it holds the largest single catalogue of Arabic-language music in the world. It also owns the rights to more than 2,000 Arabic movies. News Corp is one of the world's largest media conglomerates, owning many media brands such as BSkyB, The Sunday Times, The New York Post, Harper Collins, National Geographic Channels, Fox film and television holdings and MySpace. @Email:khagey@thenational.ae