News Corp eyes bid for media in Turkey

NEWS CORP has reportedly joined the queue of potential bidders for Sabah-ATV, the Turkish media set which has already garnered the attention of Time Warner.

Comprising daily newspaper Sabah and television station ATV, Turkey’s second largest media group currently belongs to Calik Holding, the Turkish corporation led by Berat Albayrak – the Turkish prime minister’s son in law.

According to people familiar with the matter, Calik extended the deadline for bids, which was originally last Wednesday, to make room for News Corp’s application.

Other parties interested are said to include entertainment giant Time Warner, European broadcaster RTL Group and private equity companies TPG Capital and KKR & Co.

Speculation has valued Sabah-ATV between $700m and £1bn (£449m and £642m), although this figure could climb if the big bidders go head to head.

Calik Holding bought Sabah-ATV from the Turkish government in a $1.1bn deal which prompted controversy when it went through in late 2007 due to a lack of rival bidders and a loan of $750m from two banks.

The Turkish media has likewise provoked contention due to the concentration of ownership among large private companies, which some say leads to a limited representation of views.

The winner of the bid for Sabah-ATV would therefore find itself in a powerful position.

In February 2011 Turkey introduced legislation to allow foreign investors to own stakes of up to 50 per cent – twice the previous threshold – in up to two Turkish broadcasters.

This change in rule prompted an attempted sale by Dogan Yayin, Turkey’s largest media corporation, which fell through. Some have predicted the same outcome for Sabah-ATV.

A News Corp spokesperson declined to comment.

Calik is being advised by Goldman Sachs.