Orbit Group And Showtime Arabia Merge Pay-TV Operations

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

New platform to offer the widest choice of Arabic and international Premium entertainment; ‘Strategic merger creates MENA’s largest pay-TV operator’ says new CEO

DUBAI and BAHRAIN — Showtime Arabia and the Orbit Group of Companies today announced the merger of their pay-TV operations to form a new company and create the leading pay-TV platform in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

The new company will offer over 70 exclusive channels featuring the widest choice of exclusive first run movies, premium sports, Arabic and international television entertainment.

New customers may subscribe to new, enhanced packages from August 1st, while existing Orbit and Showtime subscribers will have the option to either benefit from special upgrade offers or retain their current subscription packages at their current prices should they choose to do so.

The new company is an equal partnership between the Orbit Group, a member of the Riyadh based Mawarid Group and Showtime Arabia, a subsidiary of KIPCO.

Commenting on the merger Mr Faisal Al Ayyar, KIPCO’s Vice Chairman, said the merger was good news for customers, staff and the industry: “This deal brings together two great brands into one company to offer customers the very best in Western and Arabic entertainment.

“Showtime and Orbit were pioneers of the region’s pay-TV market and we’ve both been calling for consolidation of the market for some time. Joining forces in this way is good news for customers, staff and the regional television industry.” Mr. Samir Abdulhadi, President and CEO of Orbit Group, commented: “This unprecedented merger is great news for the industry and customers alike, because it consolidates two leading pay-TV platforms, brings together the best channel line-up under one operator and combines all customer service and distribution networks into a single point of call.

With the new company, subscribers receive a superior choice of world class entertainment supported by the largest distribution and customer service network in the region.

“The merger includes the two core network operations comprising programming, marketing, distribution, broadcast technology and subscriber management systems.

Other Orbit Group operations, such as Media Gates, Orbit Data Systems and Noorsat are not part of the merger and will continue to be managed by their respective management teams independent of the new company.

Media Gates, Orbit’s Arabic production company, will continue to distribute the Arabic channel line up exclusively through the newly created platform.

“The new company will, for the first time, allow us to maximise the value of the two strongest regional TV brands. It is a turning point for the industry. It will unlock the potential of the market across MENA and realize the significant benefits of this unified platform.

The new company with its two brands is poised for an exciting period of growth.” Mr. Marc-Antoine d’Halluin CEO of the new company said: “This merger creates MENA’s largest pay-TV operator offering the very best premium channels in the region as well as truly innovative services to our customers including HD channels, Video on Demand and other interactive services.

“The new company will continue to run its core operations and corporate functions from Bahrain and Dubai, bringing together experienced and talented employees who are tasked with extracting significant synergies and delivering the best value from this merger for all our stakeholders and customers. We look forward to updating the market on this exciting merger and future plans.”

Credit Suisse acted as exclusive financial advisor on the merger. Weil Gotshal & Manges acted for Showtime Arabia and KIPCO. Linklaters LLP acted for the Orbit Group.