Saudi Rotana to sell stake to News Corp for $70m

Saudi-based entertainment firm Rotana said it agreed to sell a $70 million (Dh257m) stake in the Rotana Group to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, a move aimed at boosting the firm's foothold in the media industry.

"News Corp has reached an agreement to buy a 9.09 per cent stake in Rotana Group," Rotana said in a statement yesterday.

The US firm has an option to raise its stake to 18.18 per cent in the 18 months following completion, it said in the statement. "This is a qualitative leap not just for Rotana but for the whole Arab World," the firm's Chairman, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, told a press conference. "We are set to gain deep experience from News Corp… on television, movie production and technology," he said.

"They own MySpace… We can learn from this, the new media field," Alwaleed said.

Rotana owns the Arab World's largest record label and operates 11 television channels, two of which are under a partnership with Fox News. In September, the Wall Street Journal said News Corp was eyeing a 20 per cent stake in Rotana, citing people familiar with the deal.

Alwaleed's Kingdom Holding owns nearly seven per cent of News Corp, and a 4.2 per cent stake in Citigroup.

Rotana will appoint in two months an advisor to help it select a stock exchange for its listing, he said.

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