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Doğan in talks to sell media assets to group close to Turkish president

Turkey’s Doğan Holding, which owns free-to-air channel Kanal D and pay TV platform D-Smart as well as the Hurriyet Gazeteclik newspaper group, is in talks to sell its media arm to Demiroren Holding, a group close to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a deal that reportedly values the assets at US$890 million.

Demiroren, which is unlisted, already owns the Milliyet and Vatan newspapers that were formerly part of the Dogan group. The purchase of Doğan would give it control of additional news outlets including the Hurriyet newspaper and a 50% stake in CNN Türk, Doğan’s joint venture with Turner Broadcast, fuelling concerns about growing government control of media  in the country.

Doğan Holding and founder Aydin Dogan have had a strained relationship with Erdogan’s ruling AKP party. The sale of Milliyet and Vatan to Demiroren was widely seen as being forced on Doğan after it incurred a US$2.5 billion penalty for unpaid taxes.

At the time of the tax fine, Doğan hired Goldman Sachs to advise on options for the sale of part of the company, with reports that News Corp pulled out of a deal because the price being asked was too high. Other groups reportedly in the frame to acquire stakes in Doğan at the time included Time Warner and RTL Group.

Turkey’s media law was later amended to enable foreign companies to hold 50% stakes in media groups, against the previous 25% restriction.

Doğan has an estimated 10% share of the Turkish media market, while Demiroren has about 6%.