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News Ltd gets deeper into Arabia

Snares stake in Middle East media empire Moby

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News Corp has further embedded itself in the Middle East media market taking a strategic stake in Dubai-based media, content and technology player, the Moby Group.

Under the deal the Murdoch’s will hand over their 50 percent stake in Dubai-based Broadcast Middle East (BME), which is a joint venture between News Corporation and the Moby Group, for an equity swap in the Moby Group.

The Moby Group is headquartered in Dubai and active in Central Asia, principally Afghanistan, and the Middle East holiding a range of 13 integrated media and technology assets including a range of networks such as Tolo TV and Lemar TV.

Among Moby’s assets are original content production company Kaboora Production, technology property Alef Technology, internet café chain Andeshagah, strategic comms company Lapis and the Yellow Pages Afghanistan.

While financial details were not disclosed, News Ltd said it would also provide growth capital to Moby for its expansion plans and will get a seat on the board.

Following the investment, BME will become a wholly-owned unit of Moby. Via the BME joint venture, News and Moby have introduced two Farsi-language channels, FARSI1 and Zemzemeh, reaching millions of Farsi speaking audiences across Central Asia and the Middle East.

News Ltd already has a 14.5 percent stake in Arabic broadcaster-producer Rotana Group and Rotana’s owner Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, in turn, owns about 7 percent of News Corp.

News Corp also operates a joint venture with Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corp, which is poised to launch free-to-air Arabic-language news channel Sky News Arabia later this year.

“Merging our Farsi joint venture into Moby allows us to expand our activities with what is surely one of the most dynamic and exciting media businesses in emerging markets anywhere,” said News Corp deputy chief operating officer and News International chairman James Murdoch. ®

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