ABU DHABI: E-Vision — a subsidiary of the UAE’s e&, formerly known as Etisalat Group — and ADQ, an Abu Dhabi-based investment and holding company, have signed a joint deal to acquire a majority equity stake of about 57 percent in regional streaming platform Starzplay Arabia.
Led by e&, the consortium will acquire a controlling stake based on a post-money valuation of $420 million. E-Vision’s existing stake and secondary investments will be included in the venture, and the consortium joins existing shareholders including Starz and SEQ Investors. Starz and its parent company, Lionsgate, will maintain commercial agreements for content licensing.
The deal remains subject to regulatory approvals and administrative procedures. It will reduce Lionsgate’s stake in Starzplay Arabia from 30 percent to 13 percent, in return for which the studio will receive proceeds of nearly $50 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Khalifa Al-Shamsi, the CEO of e& life and chairman of E-Vision, said: “Starzplay Arabia is a leading video-streaming platform in MENA. This acquisition is a major milestone for E-Vision and will be a catalyst for the newly formed e& life consumer digital vertical in e&.
“This investment further strengthens our service offering and significantly enhances Starzplay Arabia’s positioning across the entire MENA region.”
With e& offering the “super-fast download speeds and low latency” of 5G, Al-Shamsi said that the company is in the perfect position to “drive the streaming experience to new heights” by enabling experiences such as augmented reality and virtual reality within shows and movies.
“This new development is expected to accelerate E-Vision’s transition from focusing on the telecom network business to also providing direct-to-consumer streaming services to consumers across the MENA region,” he added.
“Starzplay Arabia has transformed the region’s entertainment sector, bringing truly homegrown competencies to serve the fast-growing demand for streaming services,” said Maaz Sheikh, the CEO and co-founder of Starzplay Arabia.
“The investment by E-Vision and ADQ will enable us to grow further by focusing on original content production and advanced customer personalization.”
Starzplay Arabia has almost 2 million subscribers in 19 countries. It said the acquisition offers the potential for international expansion, leveraging Starzplay Arabia’s reach across 20 global telecommunications companies, and will help the service to grow at scale through immediate access to e&’s customer base.