News Corp. Increases Stake in Rotana Group

The media group in the Middle East is owned by Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, who is a big News Corp. shareholder.

NEW YORK -- Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. has increased its stake in Rotana Group, a Middle Eastern media group owned by Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, who is a big shareholder in News Corp.

Rotana last year became News Corp.'s first major investment in the fast-growing Middle East media market. The $70 million deal for a 9.09 percent stake also deepened the conglomerate's relationship with Alwaleed.

This week, Rotana said News Corp. has exercised part of an option to increase its stake. For $35 million, it boosted its holding to 14.53 percent, a News Corp. spokesman confirmed Thursday. It will continue to have an option until next year to further expand that to 18.18 percent.

Alwaleed's Kingdom Holding has also owned stakes in Time Warner, Apple and non-media companies in the U.S.

Rotana hosts Fox channels in Saudi Arabia, owns rights to more than 2,000 Arabic movies in what is the region's largest film library and a music library, News Corp. said when it announced its initial investment. Saudi Arabia is the Arab world's biggest economy. Rotana also operates an expanding radio network and digital services.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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