DUBAI: Television broadcaster Al Jazeera is considering a bid for a majority stake in Turkish digital pay-TV operator Digiturk, three banking sources aware of the plans said, in a move by the Qatar-backed broadcaster to further expand its footprint.
Interest for control in Digiturk intensified in recent months after a 53-percent stake in the firm was seized by Turkey's Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) in May from Cukurova Holding, a conglomerate headed by Mehmet Emin Cukurova, one of the country's most powerful businessmen.
U.S. private equity group Providence Equity Partners owns the remaining 47 percent of Digiturk.
Digiturk has an equity value of $1 billion, which excludes around $500 million of debt, giving the firm an enterprise value of around $1.5 billion, two of the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity as the matter is not public.
Al Jazeera's interest in Digiturk stems from the pay-TV operator's access to football rights in the country, the sources said. Qatar, the world's top exporter of liquefied natural gas, is set to host the football World Cup in 2022.
Al Jazeera, which operates under the patronage of the emir of Qatar and his family, has appointed Barclays Capital, the investment banking arm of the British lender, to help assist with the process, one of the sources said.
Al Jazeera was not available for comment, while Barclays declined to comment.
TMSF declined to comment on the stake sale. Cukurova officials were not immediately available for comment.
A formal bidding process for the business is expected to begin in early 2014 and several local and international parties may join the race for the asset, the sources said. (Reuters)