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Turk Telekom Bids for 53% of Soccer Rights Holder Digiturk

July 23 (Bloomberg) -- Turk Telekomunikasyon AS, Turkey’s biggest telephone company, offered to acquire 53 percent of Digiturk, which holds the country’s Super League soccer broadcasting rights.

Turk Telekom’s bid for the stake in Digiturk, the nation’s biggest digital broadcaster, is non-binding, the Ankara-based company said in a filing with Borsa Istanbul today.

Turkey’s Savings Deposit Insurance Fund, or TMSF, took over Digiturk, formally known as Krea Icerik Hizmetleri & Produksiyon AS, and other assets from Cukurova Holding AS in May after Cukurova failed to repay $455 million of debt.

TMSF Chief Executive Officer Sakir Ercan Gul has said the fund may sell the entire company if Providence Equity Partners Inc., a U.S. buyout firm that owns the remaining 47 percent of Digiturk, agrees to sell its stake.

Turk Telekom shares rose as much as 4.8 percent to 6.96 liras in Istanbul trade, the most since June 4. The shares rose 2.4 percent to 6.80 liras at close of trading.

Digiturk may be sold for about $1 billion, said Bora Tezguler, an analyst at Istanbul-based Ak Investment, in a telephone interview today. Turk Telekom’s net debt position, which is total debt minus cash, was $3.84 billion at the end of June, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“We believe the prospective acquisition should be positive for Turk Telekom as the company is likely to offer various bundle packages, although Digiturk’s current profitability is known as unsatisfying,” Global Securities, an Istanbul-based brokerage firm, said in an e-mailed note.

Competing Bid

D-Smart, Turkey’s second-biggest digital TV platform, also plans to bid for Digiturk. D-Smart, which is owned by the media group Dogan Yayin Holding AS, plans to merge the companies if it wins the auction and gets antitrust clearance, D-Smart CEO Ali Guven said in a telephone interview on July 3.

A merger with Digiturk would yield as many as 5 million subscribers, compared with D-Smart’s 1.6 million TV box users and 370,000 Internet subscribers, according to Guven. Digiturk’s customers include 1 million users of Lig TV, which holds Turkey’s Super League soccer rights, he said.

Cukurova, one of three main shareholders in Turkey’s biggest mobile operator, Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri AS, is managing the Digiturk sale process, a spokesman for the government agency said on July 3.

In May, Cukurova agreed to sell AKS Televizyon Reklamcilik Yayincilik & Filmcilik AS, which owns the Show TV channel in Turkey, for $402 million to a Ciner Holding unit.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ercan Ersoy in Istanbul at eersoy@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net

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