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Discovery Expands Middle Eastern Presence

As part of a push to expand its presence in the Middle East and to increase the reach of its female-targeted channels, Discovery Communications has inked a deal to acquire Dubai-based media company Takhayal Entertainment and its affiliated companies in Dubai and Egypt.

Takhayal owns the TV network, Fatafeat, a popular Middle Eastern foot network.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The companies are in the final stages of getting regulatory approval and expect the deal to close in the fourth quarter of 2012.

The acquisition continues Discovery's efforts to expand its portfolio of female-targeted lifestyle brands, which already include TLC and Real Time channels that are available in more than 150 countries outside the U.S.

Fatafeat broadcasts to approximately 55 million TV households in the Middle East and North Africa. It has an in-house studio that has created a library of 700 hours of programs and it is producing an additional 150-200 new hours of programming each year.

"The acquisition of Takhayal, the premier company for cuisine and culinary programming in the Middle East, significantly strengthens our portfolio in this important region and adds content in a genre that has proven popular with our viewers around the globe, including on Real Time in Italy and the UK and on TLC in Poland, Latin America and India," explained Mark Hollinger, CEO of Discovery Networks International, in a statement. "Takhayal's executives, such as [CEO] Youssef El-Deeb are exceptionally smart and creative and we look forward to working with them to leverage Takhayal's strong position in the Arab-speaking world and take Discovery's female-targeted lifestyle content even deeper into the marketplace."

Takhayal Entertainment will be managed as part of Discovery's Central & Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEEMEA) region led by Kasia Kieli, the division's president and managing director.

Allen and Overy LLP acted as legal advisers to Discovery on the acquisition.