News Corp. Buys $70M Stake in Middle East Media Co.

Rupert Murdoch-owned giant agrees to acquire 9 percent of Rotana Group

Last Updated: February 23, 2010 @ 3:46 PM

News Corp. announced Monday that it has agreed to acquire a 9 percent stake in the Rotana Group, a Middle Eastern media company owned by a major News Corp. shareholder Time magazine once nicknamed the “Arabian Warren Buffett."

Under terms of the deal, News Corp. will buy $70 million worth of newly-issued shares – or about 9.09 percent – with an option to double its stake in the company after 18 months. News Corp. will also control two seats on the company’s board.

Rotana — owned by billionaire Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal (above, pictured) — operates a large TV and radio network, record label and the region’s “largest Arabic film library.”

Bin Talal owns 7 percent of News Corp.’s Class B common stock, making him the company’s second largest shareholder. According to Forbes, he was the 22nd richest person in the world in 2009, worth an estimated $13.3 billion.

Rupert’s son James Murdoch, chairman and CEO of News Corp.’s European and Asia division, issued this statement: “A stake in Rotana expands our presence in a region with a young and growing population, where GDP growth is set to outstrip that of more developed economies in the years ahead. Rotana is a leading player in the Middle East and we look forward to working together.”

According to the Financial Times, bin Talal “has been a vocal supporter” of the Murdoch clan, “saying last month that he would back James Murdoch to succeed his father” as News Corp. chairman.

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