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 bidder. The 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.