5th December, 2012- It was announced today that Tarak Ben Ammar has acquired Naguib Sawiris’ ONTV network in a ground-breaking deal that signals a dramatic development in the Arab media landscape. The move marks the first time that Ben Ammar, who owns leading North African network Nessma TV alongside partners Mediaset and the Karoui Brothers, is investing directly into the Egyptian market.
Ben Ammar’s Italian company Prima TV will acquire Naguib Sawiris’ interests in ONTV, which has established itself as one of Egypt’s most independent and objective media outlets.
Prima TV holds all of Tarak Ben Ammar’s media assets. In addition to Nessma, Prima also owns the Sportitalia TV brand; and Eagle Pictures- which is one of Italy’s most successful independent film distributors releasing the likes of the Twilight franchise and Academy Award-winner The King’s Speech. Prima also owns the digital network on which digital terrestrial pay bouquet Mediaset Premium broadcasts. Mediaset Premium has exclusive deals with Warner Bros and Universal, and semi-exclusive deals with Mediaset.
The deal represents a strategic decision to create an alliance between the North African market, which comprises some 90 million people, with the Egyptian market, a further 80 million. The total combined population of these two markets accounts for more than half of the Arab world’s entire population. READ MORE »
US private equity firm Vector Capital is to acquire a 30% stake in France’s Technicolor. At a shareholders’ meeting on Wednesday, a vote was passed to accept Vector’s 191M euro cash bid. The deal comes amid a lawsuit lodged against the post-production and digital media specialist by its former partner, Tarak Ben Ammar and his Quinta Communications. Although Technicolor lost 324M euros last year, The Financial Times notes the company was a draw for private equity firms eager to access its patent portfolio that includes phone, TV and tablet technology. More details follow:
Upheaval in the French post-production sector that hit at the end of last year has spread to the courts, with media mogul Tarak Ben Ammar suing former partner Technicolor. As part of the suit, bailiffs turned up at Technicolor’s headquarters just outside Paris on Friday to search computers for evidence corroborating Ben Ammar’s claims. Ben Ammar’s Quinta Communications and Technicolor were partnered in Quinta Industries, which essentially owned the entire French post-production sector — including Duran Duboi, Scanlab, SIS and LTC — since 2006. When economic problems hit Quinta Industries, forcing a liquidation in December of last year, Technicolor picked up some of its assets. Ben Ammar alleges that Technicolor allowed Quinta to fail in order to acquire those companies at a bargain basement price — a Quinta rep puts it at less than 1M euros as opposed to the 30M euros they were worth.
According to Quinta, the contract with Technicolor, which owned 17.5% of Quinta Industries, included an option to buy the entire company. It also stipulated that Ben Ammar could not enter into business with Technicolor rival Deluxe. But as Quinta began to encouter difficulties, Technicolor did not provide backing, despite a signed letter from the Ministry of Industry asking Technicolor and Quinta Communications to invest and help save the post outfits. Quinta also contends that the Deluxe clause prohibited Ben Ammar from turning to them as a recourse. Amid the crisis, Technicolor and Deluxe last July announced a strategic agreement under which Technicolor would subcontract its 35mm bulk release printing business to Deluxe in North America and Deluxe would subcontract its 35mm print distribution business in the U.S. to Technicolor.
Tarak Ben Ammar’s Quinta Communications has brought the Doha Film Institute aboard as a co-producer of Black Gold, the Jean-Jacques Annaud-directed feature that began production in Tunisia on October 18. DFI, making its first foray into a major international feature production, will provide a mix of equity, services and locations. Even though the $55 million picture is directed by a French helmer, Black Gold is shaping up to be groundbreaking for a film that is back by Arabs with subject matter about them. An adaptation of the Hans Reusch novel The Great Thirst, Black Gold stars Antonio Banderas, Tahar Rahim, Mark Strong, Freida Pinto, Riz Ahmed and Liya Kebede. The drama is about the rivalry between two Emirs in Arabia in the 1930s, just as oil is being discovered, and the rise of a young dynamic leader who unites the various tribes of the desert kingdoms. The film is being earmarked for Christmas, 2011 release, and Warner Bros has signed on to distribute in France, UK, Latin America and the Middle East, while Universal Pictures International will release it in Germany and Spain and Quinta’s Eagle Pictures has Italy.