Qatar-owned broadcaster beIN Sports is in advanced talks to buy Turkey’s biggest pay-TV platform Digiturk, two people with knowledge of the matter said.
A deal with beIN Sports, owned by beIN Media Group, may be signed within weeks, according to the people, who asked not to be named because the transaction is confidential. The Qatari group may pay as much as $1.5 billion, they said.
Cukurova Holding AS, an Istanbul-based group owned by Turkish billionaire Mehmet Emin Karamehmet, is selling its 53 percent stake in Digiturk, while U.S. buyout firm Providence Equity Partners Inc. and other shareholders are selling the remaining 47 percent, the people said.
Cukurova is selling Digiturk, which holds the rights to broadcast Turkey’s Super Lig soccer games until the end of the 2016-17 season, to pay back the government’s Savings Deposit Insurance Fund. The fund seized several Cukurova assets in 2013 as compensation for unpaid debts.
Cukurova has sold its armored vehicle maker BMC and media assets including Show TV and Aksam newspapers, all of which were seized.
Digiturk has more than 2.7 million subscribers in Turkey, according to a report dated March 31 on the website of Turkey’s telecommunications market regulator. D-Smart, owned by Dogan Sirketler Grubu Holding AS, is next with 1.75 million users.
It’s been reported that Digiturk has been acquired by Qatar Seyh Nasser Al-Khelaifi for $820m.
The assets of Digiturk as well as the assets of eleven other companies were seized in May 2013 by the Turkish Savings Deposit Insurance Fund, a Turkish government’s agency, after parent Cukurova Group failed to meet debt obligations. Cukurova currently controls 53% of Digiturk’ shares while the rest is in the hands of private equity fund Providence Equity Partners.
Al-Khelaïfi is also Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Paris Saint-Germain Football Club in France. It’s been told also rumoured that the deal will be made public before the end of the year. Al Jazeera is also expected to take part in management of Digiturk.
Nasser Al-Khelaifi is also Chairman of Qatar Sports Investments, President of the Qatar Tennis Federation (QTF) and Vice President of the Asian Tennis Federation for West Asia (ATF).