A consortium led by Emirates-based technology and investment group e& has agreed to acquire a majority equity stake in SVOD and streaming platform Starzplay Arabia.
The group, including e&’s E-Vision and Abu Dhabi-based investment and holding company ADQ, is taking approximately 57% of the Middle East and North Africa service provider based on a post-money valuation of $420M. Until 2022, Lionsgate-owned Starz was the lead investor in Starzplay Arabia along with media and technology investment firms including SEQ Investors and Delta Partners. This deal reduces the stake from 30% to 13% and will result in a roughly $50M return.
E-Vision’s existing stake and secondary investments will join the other existing shareholders, including Starz and SEQ Investors. Starz and Lionsgate will maintain commercial agreements for content licensing to the venture.
Starzplay Arabia has nearly two million subscribers across 19 countries, giving E-Vision an opportunity to lead in content aggregation and access the fast growth video DTC streaming business in the MENA region, the company said in a statement. The acquisition also provides potential for international expansion, leveraging Starzplay Arabia’s reach across 20 global telcos. With the joint investment, Starzplay Arabia will leverage media content delivered by both E-Vision and ADQ portfolio companies.
Jeffrey Hirsch, President and Chief Executive Officer of Starz, said, “We’re proud of what (CEO and co-founder of Starzplay Arabia) Maaz (Sheikh) and the team have built over the past few years, creating one of the pre-eminent SVOD platforms in the Middle East and North Africa. Starzplay Arabia marked our first international initiative at a time when streaming internationally was still nascent. It served as a template for growth that allowed us to rapidly scale the Starzplay brand around the world now in over 60 countries. We’re pleased to continue our productive partnership with E-Vision while adding ADQ to the venture, partners whose local market expertise will help us continue to accelerate the growth of the business together and create enormous value.”
The transaction remains subject to regulatory approvals and certain administrative procedures.