« ATV sale hangs in the balance » – C21 media

« Low bids could scupper the sale of Turkish broadcaster ATV, media insiders in the country have warned, as Time Warner, News Corp and investment group Texas Pacific Group emerge as front-runners

An ATV source told C21 the station’s owner, Calik Holding, is thought to be seeking 12 to 15 times EBITDA for its ATV-Saba holdings, which includes the ATV channel, as well as newspaper and magazine assets.

With EBITDA at US$85m, this would result in an asking price of up to US$1.28bn. However, News Corp, Time Warner and TPG have so far tabled bids of up to around US$1bn for the Turkish asset, Reuters reported earlier this week.

“In my opinion, the bids that they submitted are below the expectations of the sellers. So I think there’s a chance that they might decide not to sell after all. They might just want to raise the value of their company for different reasons and see who’s interested,” said Endemol Turkey MD Ansi Elagoz.

Calik bought the ATV-Sabah holdings for US$1.1bn in 2007, though the firm is now understood to have hired Goldman Sachs to handle a sale.

An ATV source told C21 that the asset was definitely up for sale with initial bids entered last week. Negotiations could now run into the summer, the source said, though separate reports suggest the process may conclude by the end of the month.

RTL, which was also rumoured to be interested in buying the asset, is not thought to have tabled an offer.

News Corp already owns Turkish terrestrial channel Fox TV and in 2010 sold its Bulgarian TV business bTV to Central European Media Enterprises for US$400m. Time Warner and TPG were reported to have bid for Turkish conglomerate Dogan Holding’s Kanal D and Star TV assets last year, though neither reached an agreement.

IHS’s head of advertising research Daniel Knapp said that Turkey is attracting foreign interest as it, along with Russia, is a key growth market: “Recent years have shown that the Turkish TV market is an opportunity too good to miss. In 2010 the ad market grew by 40%. In 2011 we project it to grow by 22% in net terms, which is phenomenal. We don’t see this growth anywhere else.”

Yadigar Belbuken, deputy general manager and head programming at Fox International Channels Turkey, would not comment on News Corp’s apparent interest in ATV, but said: “There seems to be room to grow and I suspect there will be more international groups launching new channels or investing in the market, such as in ATV.” »

Source : C21 media


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