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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 October 2018

OSN shareholders reject $3.2bn buyout offer from US private equity firm

The TV company has operations across the Middle East and North Africa, and posted earnings of 139.5 million Kuwaiti dinars in 2013.
Kipco owns 60.5 per cent of OSN. Silvia Razgova / The National
Kipco owns 60.5 per cent of OSN. Silvia Razgova / The National

A US$3.2 billion offer for a majority stake in OSN, the broadcaster of the television shows Game of Thrones and Hareem Al Sultan in the Middle East, has been rejected, its main shareholder said yesterday.

Kuwait Projects Company (Kipco) said it and its fellow shareholder Mawarid Group turned down the bid from an unnamed private equity firm in the United States for between 51 and 100 per cent of OSN.

The offer included $2.4bn in cash and $800 million linked to certain conditions, said Kipco, which had first reported the offer last month.

Kipco owns 60.5 per cent of OSN, and Mawarid Group holds the rest.

OSN broadcasts Hollywood blockbusters and television shows, Arabic language content and sporting events including the London Olympics.

The subscription-based network was valued at $4.3bn last year by Arqaam Capital, based on expected growth in the pay-TV sector and after its acquisition of the South Asian-language network Pehla.

OSN offers about 135 channels and has more than 1 million subscribers. It recently launched a streaming online service for $10 per month. It posted earnings last year of 139.5 million dinars (Dh1.8bn)

Kipco had announced last year that it intended to take OSN public, sentiments that were repeated at the firm’s annual general meeting this March, according to Reuters.

Kipco’s vice chairman, Faisal Al Ayyar, said then that the company was looking at a primary listing in London to be completed by the end of this year.

In May, the OSN chief executive, Dave Butorac, signalled a different direction. “We have no current plans for an IPO,” he told The National. “The shareholders have publicly articulated they are looking at the options for the future and one of those is to approach the equity markets. But as it stands today, we have no active plans or time frame.”

Kipco’s shares closed unchanged at 730 fils in Kuwait yesterday. They are up more than 23 per cent this year.

* with Agencies

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