x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

OSN to offer Bollywood and Cricket World Cup after Pehla acquisition

The Dubai-based pay TV service, which is currently expanding with five new HD channels this year, says it had acquired all of the company for an undisclosed sum.

OSN has bought scores of new channels through an acquisition of Pehla Media and Entertainment.  Jaime Puebla / The National
OSN has bought scores of new channels through an acquisition of Pehla Media and Entertainment. Jaime Puebla / The National

OSN has bought scores of new channels through an acquisition of Pehla Media and Entertainment, giving the Dubai-based pay TV service rights to Asian content including Bollywood movies and the ICC Cricket World Cup.

The company, which is currently expanding with five new HD channels this year and launching another channel in the United Kingdom, said it had acquired all of Pehla for an undisclosed sum, adding "nearly 40 premium channels". The acquisition takes OSN's total number of channels to around 140.

"OSN is significantly expanding its reach throughout the Middle East region," said David Butorac, the company's chief executive.

However, he dampened expectations that OSN would soon embark on an initial public offering (IPO), saying it had not begun the process of listing on a stock market.

Terms of the acquisition of Pehla, based in Jebel Ali, were not disclosed, though the deal was funded through a mix of OSN's reserves and debt financing.

Covering a number of channels in Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Malayam and Tamil, the move is intended to help OSN to grow its regional customer base after partnering with ABS-CBN, the Philippine TV network, earlier this year.

"We have for some time recognised the importance of the South East Asian market as an integral part of the market," Mr Butorac said. "The addition of Pehla is a very natural synergy to grow our business."

The deal increases OSN's staff of 1,500 across the region by a further 69 people, Mr Butorac said.

In June, Kuwait Projects Company, the company known as Kipco which is the majority owner of OSN's shares, said it had hired Rothschild to advise on the options for an initial public offering.

"As it stands today there are no current plans for the IPO," Mr Butorac said. "What happens in the future happens in the future."

Kipco owns 60.5 per cent of OSN's shares, while Mawarid Group, a Saudi family-owned conglomerate, owns the remaining 39.5 per cent.

In June, OSN said it would expand in the UK with the launch of Ya Hala channel.

 

ghunter@thenational.ae