News Corp snaps up stake in Dubai media group

Deal with US media giant to help finance Moby’s expansion through Middle East
News Corp snaps up stake in Dubai media group
News Corp is owned by media tycoon Rupert Murdoch. Prince Alwaleed is its largest single shareholder
By Elizabeth Broomhall
Tue 17 Jan 2012 06:13 PM

US media giant News Corp has secured a deal to take a minority stake in Dubai media company the Moby Group, in a bid to aid the group’s expansion around the Middle East.

The New York-based firm, which also has a 14.5 percent stake in Prince Alwaleed’s media company Rotana Holding, will help finance Moby’s debut in new markets and also provide media expertise, the director of Moby Group said.

“Given that we’ve had such a good relationship with News Corp over the last four years, it was decided that they would take a minority stake in our company,” Saad Mohesni told Arabian Business.

“They have put in additional capital, which will allow Moby to grow the business regionally. Given their vast experience, we may also utilize their know-how.”

The Moby Group, which is also active in Afghanistan, first tied -up with News Corp in 2007, giving the Rupert-Murdoch owned firm a 50 percent share of its subsidiary Broadcast Middle East (BME).

The JV was best known for its launch of two Farsi-language channels through BME, known as FARSI1 and Zemzemeh, which have proved popular with the region’s Persian community.

As part of the new deal, News Corp has surrendered its stake in BME, allowing it to become a wholly-owned unit of Moby in exchange for a minority share of the entire firm.

Mohesni said the move was also a gain for News Corp, whose markets outside of North America and Europe have been the fastest-growing in recent years, accounting for 17 percent of sales in their last financial year according to media reports.

“They will end up with a much smaller stake in Moby, but I think it’s also an opportune time for them to expand their business through a minority stake in our company.

“The countries we are going into, they don’t have a presence in right now.”

The Moby Group currently has five TV networks, two radio networks and whole host of other small media outlets, and is eyeing growth both regionally and in terms of business ventures.

Mohesni said the firm expected to launch at least three channels, and see significant growth outside of its existing markets, though he declined to specify which areas.

“It will probably be around three to five channels within the next 18 months. We also want to boost our production capacity in the region, hopefully out of Dubai.

“We’re also looking at a minimum of three countries [within the timeframe]. Certainly there will be a substantial number of people hired across the region.”

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