Al Jazeera is considering a bid for a majority stake in Turkish digital pay-TV operator Digiturk, in a move by the Qatari broadcaster to further expand its footprint, according to a report on Reuters. The news was confirmed by three separate banking sources.
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. 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 comes from the network operator's access to football rights in the country, the sources said. Qatar is set to host the football World Cup in 2022.
Al Jazeera has appointed Barclays Capital, the investment banking arm of the British lender, to help assist with the process, one of the sources said.
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.