Weil Gotshal advises on $2bn Showtime Arabia merger

Weil Gotshal & Manges and Linklaters have landed lead roles on a major $2bn (£1.2bn) Middle East media merger.

Weil Gotshal advised long-standing client KIPCO on the merger of its subsidiary Showtime Arabia, a pay TV company, with rival pay TV operation Orbit. Lead partner Mark Soundy referred to the tie-up as “one of the largest [Middle East] cross-border deals involving private enterprise”.

The 50:50 joint venture will create a major regional player with coverage across 25 jurisdictions in the Middle East and North Africa. They will initially operate under twin brands and have the rights to all seven major Hollywood studios, Disney and Discovery.

Director of legal at Showtime Arabia Gordon Finlayson said: “The Middle East has historically had a fragmented media market with a considerable amount of competition in the pay television space.

“Consolidation makes a lot of sense – the new company will be able to extract greater value from rights holders and deliver a better offering for consumers.”

This is a major deal for Weil Gotshal and comes just months after it set up its Dubai operation.

Soundy commented: “We [recently] set up our first outpost in the Middle East in Dubai and are trying to sell M&A and restructuring [advice]. This shows that there’s a genuine appetite at the high-end of deals.”

He said that with the “sophisticated merger and shareholder agreements” this looked like a “European deal”.

Corporate associate Natalie Gray was involved in Weil Gotshal’s Dubai office, while London-based associates Elizabeth Todd and Alicia Speake carried out due diligence. The firm referred local due diligence work to DLA Piper, led by partner and Middle East corporate head Peter Monk.

Linklaters partner Ewan Cameron led the team advising Riyadh-based Mawarid Group – owners of Orbit. He was assisted by Ben Davies, Jonathan Lewis and James Wootton.