$70 million buys 9.1% stake in Al-Waleed's Arabic media giant

LONDON — Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. confirmed Tuesday that it will spend $70 million for a slice of Arabic media giant Rotana Group, owned by Saudi billionaire Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal (Daily Variety, Dec. 2).

The pact, first announced at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, will see News Corp. take a 9.1% stake in Rotana with an option to acquire another 9.1% within 18 months.

It deepens the strategic partnership between Rupert Murdoch and Prince Al-Waleed, who is a substantial investor in News Corp.

News Corp.’s Fox and Rotana have a long-standing relationship. The two companies launched two Fox-branded English language channels in the Middle East and Rotana has also inked to distribute Fox fare on DVD throughout the Middle East.

Rotana has interests across film, TV and music. The deal with News Corp. will focus on the film and TV aspects of Rotana’s business.

While Middle Eastern investors have been ramping up their involvement in Hollywood — Abu Dhabi’s $1 billion production arm Imagenation is one example — the News Corp.-Rotana pact is the most significant investment yet by a Western media company in the Arab world.

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