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Cablegate: Bin Talal Takes Ove Lbc/Satellite

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OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHLB #1017 1961443
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 141443Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2465
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
INFO RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 3286
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 2627
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3856
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 2602
RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS BEIRUT 001017

STATE FOR NEA/ELA - SOMERSET, NEA/PPD, R, INR/R/MR
INR-PARENT
LONDON/POL
PARIS/POL

WHITE HOUSE FOR NSC
USCENTCOM FOR CCPA

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF PREL KMDR OPRC KPAO KISL KPAL LE
SUBJECT: Bin Talal Takes Ove LBC/Satellite

1. Saudi multi-billionaire Al Waleed Bin Talal and Lebanese media
magnate Pierre El Daher announced on July 8 that Bin Talal raised
his stake in El Daher's Lebanese Media Holding (LMH) to around 85
per cent with a value of US 78 million. Bin Talal is now the main
shareholder. LMH encompasses three companies owned by El Daher,
LBC/SAT, PAC Lmtd., and LBCPLUS. The deal raises LBC/SAT's total
capital from 25 million to 123 million. It also includes an
additional 20 million in simplified loans.

2. Bin Talal used to own 49 percent of the LBC/SAT shares. With
his share increase, the channel is now part of the large platform of
channels Bin Talal owns. These channels include six Rotana channels
and two Fox International Channels. One of the Fox channels is
broadcasting movies, e.g., QFox Movies,Q and the second channel,
which will broadcast American television Shows is expected to begin
in November. El Daher is the "Head of TV Channels" in the new
structure and retains the title of CEO of LBC/SAT.

3. El Daher is now expected to deliver a five year development plan
for all of the channels he manages. A press release announcing the
deal said "the increased capital will help strengthen LBC Sat's
position in the Arab satellite broadcast market in terms of
competitiveness, productivity and financial depth, while maintaining
its distinct Lebanese identity... The move is part of a larger
strategy that will be implemented over the course of five years,
which will encompass growth at LBC Sat and all Rotana TV channels,
fully owned by Prince Al Waleed... The long-term development
strategy is not limited to the TV stations but is part of a larger
development plan for Rotana Holding that will involve TV production,
cinema and other projects."

4. Terrestrial channel LBCI is not involved in the agreement, but
is expected to benefit from it. El Daher said that all programs are
usually broadcasted on both the satellite and terrestrial channels.
LBC/SAT's financial capabilities will be increased allowing it to
produce better quality. El Daher also explained that Bin Talal's
step to increase capital at LMH has nothing to do with political
ambitions "so far." He said that Bin Talal wants to "build a large
content and media distribution group. (And, that) Bin Talal's
option, besides building his own channel, is to regroupunder one
umbrella, the best TV channels in the egion."

Grant

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