Goldman Takes on Tough Sell of Loss-Making Pay-TV Firm OSN

(Bloomberg) -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc. may have a hard job finding a buyer for the Middle East’s biggest pay-TV service.

Competition from the likes of Netflix Inc., Amazon Prime Video and other services have crashed the value of Kuwait-based OSN, which is up for sale -- not for the first time in the past five years.

OSN’s controlling shareholder, Kuwait Projects Co., is now working with the U.S. bank on options for the company after hiring Rothschild in 2013 to evaluate a possible share sale. Rothschild’s mandate ended in 2014 after the IPO didn’t take place.

But times and viewing habits have changed since OSN was valued at $4.3 billion by Arqaam Capital in 2013. The following year Kuwait Projects rejected a $3.2 billion offer from an unnamed U.S. buyout firm -- a decision it’s likely to be regretting now.

Kuwait Projects’ share of profits from OSN slumped to a loss of 19.8 million dinar ($65 million) in the first six months of the year, compared with a profit of 11 million dinars in 2014. At the end of September, Kipco classified OSN as a non-current asset held for sale with a value of 181.7 million dinars on its balance sheet.

"OSN continues to face temporary headwinds," Anuj Rohtagi, a director at Kuwait Projects, said on a conference call last week. The company is facing subdued demand in its "core markets owing to piracy (particularly BeoutQ platform), geo-political reasons and new fiscal reforms by government which has partly resulted in sizeable expat population base exiting from some of our core markets," he said.

Goldman Takes on Tough Sell of Loss-Making Pay-TV Firm OSN

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