* Turk Telekom keenest potential buyer, banking source says
* Majority owner Cukurova given time to sell company itself
* Dogan’s D-smart interested in Digiturk, CEO tells paper
By Seda Sezer and Dinesh Nair
ISTANBUL, July 3 (Reuters) - Turk Telekom, Dogan Holding and Dogus Group are among potential buyers for Turkish digital pay-TV operator Digiturk, in a deal seen worth up to $1 billion, banking sources close to the matter told Reuters.
NewsCorp and Liberty Global may also be interested in Digiturk, majority owned by Cukurova, they said.
State agency the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) in May seized control of Digiturk and dozens of other companies belonging to the troubled Cukurova Group.
U.S. private equity group Providence Equity Partners own 47 percent of Digiturk.
“Turk Telekom is the most interested buyer because they want to give triple play service: Internet, telephone and pay TV,” one source said.
A TMSF official told Reuters the agency had given Cukurova time to sell Digiturk after being persuaded that it may get a higher price. He did not say how much time Cukurova was given.
NewsCorp, Liberty Global and Turk Telekom all declined to comment. Dogan Holding, Cukurova Holding and Dogus Group did not return calls seeking comment.
Digiturk’s pay-TV market share was 61.73 percent and D-Smart’s 38.27 percent in the second quarter of 2012 when 4.1 million subscribers produced revenues of 51.8 million Turkish lira ($26.80 million), up 52 percent from the first quarter, according to the latest data from telecoms regulator BTK.
Pay-TV households are set to rise 25 percent between 2012-2017, according to IHS Screen Digest data, while revenues are expected to rise 71 percent in the same period.
Ali Guven, chief executive of D-Smart, Dogan Holding’s pay-TV operator, said it was interested buying Digiturk, Hurriyet newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Turkish conglomerate Ciner Group agreed to buy television channel Show TV from Cukurova for $402 million last month.