Alwaleed, Bloomberg in talks for Arabic news channel

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Prince Alwaleed's media company Rotana Group operates a number of free-to-air TV channels

Prince Alwaleed's media company Rotana Group operates a number of free-to-air TV channels

Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed is in talks to launch an Arabic-language business news channel with financial data company Bloomberg, Arabian Business has learned.

It is understood the Kingdom Holding chairman and Bloomberg could announce the new venture within the next two months, in a deal that would see Bloomberg directly compete with news channel CNBC Arabia.

The 24-hour channel could also prove a rival for planned news service Sky News Arabia, British Sky Broadcasting’s (BSkyB) first foreign-language channel, due to launch in early 2012.

The billionaire prince is the second largest shareholder in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, which holds a 39 percent share in BSkyB.

The media conglomerate this month shelved a $12bn bid to buy the 61 percent of BSkyB it doesn’t already own, after being mired in a widening scandal stemming from phone hacking.

Details of Prince Awaleed’s likely tie-up with Bloomberg are unclear. A source close to the project told Arabian Business: “It’s along the lines of what Bloomberg already does on English broadcasting. If that formula of high-end business news can be repeated in Arabic 24/7, it could prove very successful.”

The deal may be carried out through Prince Alwaleed’s existing media company, Rotana Group. Rotana owns the Arab world's largest record label and about 40 percent of the region's movies, and operates a number of free-to-air television channels.

News Corp said in May it would raise its stake in Rotana Group to 14.53 percent, in an investment worth $35m.

The media giant acquired an initial 9.09 stake in Rotana in May 2010, in an investment worth around $70m.

Neither Kingdom Holding nor Bloomberg responded to calls and emails from Arabian Business.

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