NEW BACKING FOR SKY GLOBAL
Saudi financier Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, nephew of Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd, has said that he is potentially interested in becoming an investor in News Corp’s satellite television spin-off, Sky Global Networks.
“I am meeting [Murdoch] to discuss the potential of us being part of that venture,” he told reporters in New York. If Alwaleed, who already has a 3 per cent News Corp shareholding, commits to a Sky Global investment, he would be the second major investor in the satellite conglomerate after John Malone’s US cable operator Liberty Media.
News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch has already suggested that he would like to attract financial, as well as strategic backers for Sky Global and the prince is an obvious partner as he and Murdoch are investors in German media group Kirch. Murdoch is also thought to be in discussions with Microsoft about an investment in Sky Global.
The addition of Alwaleed’s financial muscle would also boost the likelihood of News Corp taking control of US satellite broadcaster DirecTV before Sky Global upcoming IPO, which should occur no later than January 2001. Commenting on the possible acquisition of DirecTV, Alwaleed said, “If you look at the empire Mr Murdoch has built across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Australia, DirecTV sits very well in that strategy.”
The prince, whose portfolio is estimated to be worth more than E24.55Bn, has a reputation for making substantial investments in businesses that he sees as undervalued. However, his portfolio has recently been hit by the downturn in technology, telecom and Internet stocks.