Qatar’s beIN Said Near Deal for Turkey’s Top Pay-TV Operator

Qatar-owned broadcaster beIN Sports is in advanced talks to buy Turkey’s biggest pay-TV platform Digiturk, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

A deal with beIN Sports, owned by beIN Media Group, may be signed within weeks, according to the people, who asked not to be named because the transaction is confidential. The Qatari group may pay as much as $1.5 billion, they said.

Cukurova Holding AS, an Istanbul-based group owned by Turkish billionaire Mehmet Emin Karamehmet, is selling its 53 percent stake in Digiturk, while U.S. buyout firm Providence Equity Partners Inc. and other shareholders are selling the remaining 47 percent, the people said.

Cukurova is selling Digiturk, which holds the rights to broadcast Turkey’s Super Lig soccer games until the end of the 2016-17 season, to pay back the government’s Savings Deposit Insurance Fund. The fund seized several Cukurova assets in 2013 as compensation for unpaid debts.

Cukurova has sold its armored vehicle maker BMC and media assets including Show TV and Aksam newspapers, all of which were seized.

Digiturk has more than 2.7 million subscribers in Turkey, according to a report dated March 31 on the website of Turkey’s telecommunications market regulator. D-Smart, owned by Dogan Sirketler Grubu Holding AS, is next with 1.75 million users.

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