Franco-Tunisian mogul Tarak Ben Ammar has a long history of brokering major media deals in Italy. In 2003 he persuaded Vivendi to sell pay-TV Telepiù to News Corp., paving the way for Rupert Murdoch's launch of Sky Italia. He was subsequently instrumental to French media company Vivendi entering into Italy’s Telecom Italia. Earlier this month Ben Ammar brought Vivendi and Mediaset together in a media alliance with far-reaching ramifications. He spoke to Variety exclusively about why the deal is going...
A close adviser to big players in the Arab world, he moves in financial and media industry circles at the highest levels. Ben Ammar, who spent part of his childhood in Rome where his father served as Tunisian ambassador to Italy, became a high-caliber dealmaker after forging a close rapport in the mid 1980’s with Silvio Berlusconi, before the former Italian prime minister and TV tycoon went into politics. At the time Ben Ammar was a film producer in Tunisia, where he had lured the shoot of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
Ben Ammar and Berlusconi jointly set up production and distribution company Quinta Communications in Paris in 1990. Berlusconi gave Ben Ammar mandate to help bring new investors into his Mediaset TV company, which he did in 1994. Following Mediaset’s flotation in 1995, he became a board member representing Saudi Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal, a position he no longer holds.
More recently, in 2003, Ben Ammar persuaded French media company Vivendi to sell pay-TV Telepiù to News Corp., paving the way for Rupert Murdoch’s launch of Sky Italia. He was subsequently instrumental to Vivendi entering into Italy’s Telecom Italia. More recently, in 2016, Ben Ammar brought Vivendi and Mediaset together in a media alliance which went sour after Vivendi pulled out. A graduate of Georgetown, Ben Ammar is on the boards of Italian merchant bank Mediobanca, Telecom Italia, and on Vivendi’s supervisory board.