Saudi-backed media group MBC hires new CEO after veteran leaves

DUBAI, Dec 9 (Reuters) - Saudi-controlled MBC Group said on Monday it has appointed Marc Antoine d’Halluin as chief executive, replacing Sam Barnett who left in October after 17 years with the Middle East’s biggest broadcaster.

D’Halluin, who began his career at Sony Pictures, is expected to join Dubai-based MBC on Jan. 5, it said.

MBC owns several satellite TV channels, including the 24-hour Arabic language news channel Al Arabiya.

D’Halluin previously worked as chairman of the Luxembourg-based M7 Group, which operates satellite Pay TV packages in Holland, Belgium, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania.

Saudi authorities took a controlling stake in MBC Group in 2018 as they seized assets from those caught up in an anti-corruption campaign launched in 2017 by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Last year, Riyadh allowed MBC Group chairman and founder, Waleed al-Ibrahim, to leave the kingdom for the first time since he was caught up the anti-graft sweep with scores of wealthy Saudi royals, government officials and businessmen.

Many were freed after reaching financial settlements with the government, often involving the transfer of cash, land or shares in companies.

Sources have told Reuters the state was acquiring stakes from Ibrahim’s three brothers and another Jeddah-based businessman, while leaving the remaining 40% in Ibrahim’s hands.

Ibrahim, who founded MBC, said in the statement on Monday he hoped the new chief executive would succeed in moving the group forward with its five-year growth plan announced last year.

Reporting by Saeed Azhar; Editing by Edmund Blair