Business tycoon Naguib Sawiris (L) and steel tycoon Ahmed Abo Hashima (R) during the signing of the ONTV deal (Photo courtesy of social media)
High profile Egyptian businessman Ahmed Abu Hashima acquired shares of satellite TV channel ONTV from the channel’s owner and business tycoon Naguib Sawiris in a deal announced on Sunday.
Abu Hashima, chairman of the Egyptian Steel Group, said in an official statement that his company, Egyptians' Media, bought ONTV in a step to "pump investment into domestic media.”
According to Abu Hashima, the move will “reinforce Egyptian status in the media sector and present a comprehensive and developed media that is both professional and attractive and also functions in accordance with the state and people's aspiration for growth and stability".
"The takeover of ONTV comes in appreciation of the major role that it has played in Egyptian media and its important contribution in fighting all threats that the nation has faced leading up to the eruption of the 30 June revolution," the 40-year-old businessman said, referring to the mass protests that eventually led to the ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
"We aim to support the Egyptian [governmental] leadership in pursuing the aspirations of our nation for a better future through an effective, wise, and optimistic media policy in the future."
The company thanked Sawiris and ONTV for its coverage, which it described as "patriotic".
"Buying ONTV is a first step in a plan that includes the purchase of another channel and other future media projects that include launching satellite channels, the production of TV series, and online streaming through a group of channels aimed at Egyptian youth," Abu Hashima added.
He also said that English media content would be launched with the help of Egyptian media manpower, describing the expansion plans as ones that aim to "reclaim Egypt's media standing in the Middle East and the world".
This is not the first time ONTV has witnessed a change of ownership.
In December 2012, Sawiris sold the liberal news channel to Tunisian businessman Tarek Ben Ammar before acquiring it again later.
With Abu Hashima's purchase, the future remains uncertain for sister channel ONTV Live, ONA news agency, and ONA Academy, all of which are owned by Hawa Ltd.
Apart from Abu Hashima’s new ownership of ONTV, the young businessman is one of the most important shareholders of Youm7, one of Egypt's most prominent news websites.
Youm7's editorial board has repeatedly thanked Abu Hashima for his "major role in aiding the development of the newspaper’s print and online editions."
The steel tycoon is well known for his generous financial support to the newly-established Future of the Homeland party, widely recognised for its support of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and the Egyptian government.