The Corner

The Gore Premium


Privco, an online news service covering privately held companies, has some interesting observations about the Al Jazeera–Current TV deal that will transfer many millions of dollars from the oil-rich Qatari royal family into the pockets of oil-averse enviro-impresario and former vice president Al Gore. The (evil, wicked) bankers over at Barclays had been seeking a buyer for the money-losing cable-news channel for some time, and the Qataris far outbid all the other suitors.

Considering the fact that several suitors were interested in acquiring Current TV, PrivCo concludes that despite [co-founder Joel] Hyatt’s suggestions to the contrary, Current TV was simply sold to the highest bidderThe company had been shopped by Barclays for some time, and the deep-pocketed Qatari Royal Family backing Al Jazeera handily outbid any other bidder’s rational bid. (PrivCo analysis shows that private cable TV networks typically sell for 4.5-5x revenue. Al Jazeera is paying 7x Current TV’s 2012 revenue of $112 Million.)

Much of Privco’s public data for Current TV stops at 2008, at which time the channel was still turning in multi-million-dollar losses each quarter. Privco puts the sale price at $784 million rather than the $500 million reported by other sources.

Mr. Gore’s motives here are, I suspect, exactly what Privco suggests: selling to the highest bidder. I do wonder why the Qataris were such a remarkably high bidder, paying a premium for Current TV. But with the Qatari royals investing in Al Gore’s network and the rulers of the United Arab Emirates backing Matt Damon’s anti-gas hysteria,  it appears that Middle Eastern petro-potentates find some real value in left-learning American media, especially that of a greenish hue. Fancy that.

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