Biggest pay-TV platforms in Middle East merge

Showtime Arabia and Orbit, the largest pay-TV platforms in the Middle East, have merged.

Viacom and KIPCO-backed Showtime and Mawarid Group-owned Orbit will start offering a new package to their combined subscriber base from the beginning of August. Existing customers will be offered incentives to take up the new package or can retain their currents subscriptions at the same price.

The companies did not announce the branding for the new entity, which will offer a 70-channel package. A spokeswoman declined to give any further information, and said more would be revealed in the weeks ahead.  It is known that Showtime chief Marc-Antoine d’Halluin will be the CEO of the new company, which will continue to have headquarters in Dubai and Bahrain.

Kuwaiti investment firm KIPCO will own a 50% stake in the new entity. Ahead of the deal it had said it wanted to merge the platforms and would look at listing the combined entity. A Showtime IPO was planned back in 2006, but was called off.

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