Qatar will be bidding alongside other top media firms to purchase the struggling U.S.-based online video streaming service Hulu.
Hulu, owned by News Corp (Rupert Murdoch), Comcast and Walt Disney, will come under the hammer after failing to improve profitability and revenues, and accumulating USD 350 million in debt.
Reports suggest that seven companies have put forward their proposals for Hulu. Unofficial figures show that some of the bids could be as high as USD 1 billion, making the bidding process one of the hardest-fought deals in the US entertainment industry this year. Besides Qatar Holding, the Gulf’s state’s sovereign wealth fund, DirecTV is reported to have bid USD 1 billion for Hulu. Other major bidders include Yahoo!, media firm Guggenheim Digital and a combined effort by private equity firm Silver Lake and William Morris Endeavor Entertainment.
Hulu was set up in 2007 to help major U.S. broadcasters tap the growing potential of online advertising. The company allowed streaming of content from Walt Disney’s ABC, Comcast’s NBC and News Corp’s Fox networks. However, the business was offered to sale after differences emerged between Disney and News Corp on how to best operate the venture. The winning bidder is expected to be announced next month.
Qatar Holding has aggressively pursued investment targets all over the world. Last year, the fund invested USD 100 million in U.S. media company the Chernin Group. According to the Bloomberg News agency, the fund has offered a bid of USD 830 million for Hulu.
Buoyed by high oil prices, Qatar has chased investments in Greece, Spain, Germany and France. As Europe makes a slow recovery from the global financial crisis and debt crisis, Qatar has managed to enjoy bargain deals in the market. During the peak of banking turmoil, the Gulf state bailed out Barclays and emerged as its biggest shareholder. Some other high-profile assets grabbed by Qatar include French soccer club Paris Saint-Germain, German sports-car maker Porsche and Swiss lender Credit Suisse.