RIYADH, (Reuters) – News Corp increased its stake in Saudi Arabian media group Rotana to 14.5 percent for $35 million as it seeks to boost its presence in the fast-growing regional media market, Rotana Group said on Wednesday.
News Corp, which first took a 9.09 percent stake in Rotana in May 2010 for $70 million, exercised half of its option to double the stake to 18.2 percent and is retaining the right to exercise the rest before November 2012, the Rotana Group said in a statement.
Rotana is majority-owned by Saudi billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed, and said last year that Rotana would benefit from News Corp’s experience in television, movie production and new media, such as MySpace.
Alwaleed, through his Kingdom Holding Co investment vehicle, also holds a stake of about 7 percent in News Corp.
Rotana’s biggest rivals are Saudi-based and privately-owned Middle East Broadcasting Center and two pay-television networks — Arab Radio Television, also Saudi-based, and Orbit Showtime Network in Dubai.
Shares in Kingdom Holding were unchanged on Wednesday, at 8.75 riyals by 1200 GMT.