“Calik media sale to get airing in February” – Reuters

By Seda Sezer and Asli Kandemir

* Goldman Sachs hired for sale -sources
* Comes after Calik placed on watch list by Fitch
* No problems redeeming $200 mln bond -company official (Releads with media sale)

ISTANBUL, Jan 18 (Reuters) – Turkish group Calik Holding may complete the sale of media assets ATV and Sabah in February, sources told Reuters on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, a Calik official insisted the group would have no problem redeeming a maturing $200 million unsecured note after Fitch Ratings placed the company on a watch list due to refinancing concerns.

Calik hired Goldman Sachs this month to steer the sale of ATV and Sabah, according to sources close to the matter, who added the initial bidding round will close on January 18.

Private equity funds including TPG Capital and KKR & Co, along with Time Warner and RTL Group — Europe’s biggest commercial broadcaster — are among interested bidders, the sources said.

“Calik Group does not have a financing problem. It will make a strategic decision on whether to exit media. I do not think the process would take too long because Goldman Sachs studied the media sector very well and Calik is only talking to a very few investors,” a source close to the deal told Reuters.

“Bids will be collected until the beginning of February and the sale may finalise in February,” the same source said. Another source close to the matter also confirmed bids will be collected until February.

Goldman Sachs was last year mandated for the sale of assets of Turkey’s biggest media group, Dogan Yayin, and was hired for the separate process of selling its flagship Hurriyet newspaper.

The interested bidders for Calik assets were also on the shortlist for Dogan Yayin assets, but that sale did not happen.

Credit rating agency Fitch said on Tuesday it had placed the $200 million, five-year bond issued by Globus Capital Finance and guaranteed by Calik, on rating watch negative.

“There is no problem with the redemption. We will make the redemption,” a Calik Holding official told Reuters on Wednesday.

The redemption by Calik, which also has interests in energy and finance, is due on March 5.

The 8.5 percent bond has been falling in recent weeks, and was trading at a yield of almost 25 percent on Wednesday.

“Fitch assumes that Calik will need to get additional bank lines or external funding to meet the maturity which, to Fitch’s knowledge, have yet to be put in place,” the agency said.

It added the Sabah and ATV media assets were thinly capitalised, considering the competitive market they were in and the current and projected working capital needs.

Calik took on $750 million of bank debt in April 2008 to finance that acquisition. (Editing by David Hulmes)

Source : Reuters

“Suleiman the Magnificent TV drama opens Turkish divide on religion” – Reuters

(Demonstrators attack billboards advertising the TV series "The Magnificent Century" in Istanbul January 9, 2011/Murad Sezer )

“A steamy television period drama about a 16th century sultan has angered conservative Muslims in Turkey and sparked a debate over the portrayal of the past in a country rediscovering its Ottoman heritage.

“The Magnificent Century” chronicles the life of Suleiman the Magnificent, who ruled the Ottoman Empire in its golden age. Scenes which have particularly offended show a young and lusty sultan cavorting in the harem and drinking goblets of wine, pursuits frowned upon by the Muslim faithful for whom the sultan had religious as well as temporal authority.

Producers of the series, which has drawn huge audiences and boosted sales of history books on the period, said they wove in imagined elements to the love story between Suleiman and his favorite slave concubine, and later wife, Hurrem, with the aim of presenting the characters as more human. But for many pious Turks, including Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who leads a government with its roots in political Islam, the series is an insult to the nation’s forebears.” […]

Source : Reuters

“Turkey eyes reform of media ownership law -paper” – Reuters

“Turkey’s government is preparing a reform which would allow foreigners to own 50 percent of private broadcasters rather than a current 25 percent, Sabah newspaper reported on Saturday.

Sabah, without citing sources, said the draft reform law had been presented to the prime minister’s office.

The current law was an obstacle in last year’s sale of media firm ATV-Sabah, bankers and analysts said.

After several foreign firms showed interest, the company — which includes Sabah newspaper — was sold to local conglomerate Calik Holding for the minimum auction price of $1.1 billion.

The pro-business AK Party tried to reform the law on foreign ownership in 2005 but the bill was vetoed by the former president. Current President Abdullah Gul is a former member of the AK Party and has a track record of approving legislation passed by the AK-dominated parliament.

Turkey’s fast-growing media sector is dominated by Dogan Yayin Holding (DYHOL.IS). The second largest company is ATV-Sabah, which is made up of assets seized by a state body from the Ciner Group last year and which was sold to Calik in December.

Third largest is the media business of unlisted conglomerate Cukurova, which, according to sources familiar with the situation, has been looking to sell a stake in its media assets.

A large and young population, coupled with annual economic growth of around 5 percent makes the Turkish media market attractive to investors. Companies which expressed an interest in ATV-Sabah included News Corp. NWSA.N and Europe’s largest commercial broadcaster RTL AUDK.LU. (Reporting by Emma Ross-Thomas, Editing by Peter Blackburn)”

Source : Reuters