By Mathieu Rosemain
PARIS (Reuters) - Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris is set to sell his majority stake in Euronews to Portuguese investment firm Alpac Capital, the struggling European broadcaster said on Friday.
Euronews, created in the wake of the 1990 Gulf War as a "European CNN", has been hit by plummeting advertising revenue and is making losses.
Under the binding offer, Alpac will acquire the 88% of Euronews' shares owned by Sawiris's Luxembourg-based holding Media Globe Networks (MNG) for an undisclosed amount, Euronews said in a statement.
The deal should be closed by the end of the first quarter of next year, Euronews' Chief Executive Michael Peters said in a call with reporters.
The remaining 12% of Euronews' shares will stay in the hands a consortium of public broadcasters and local authorities such as France Televisions, Italy's RAI and Abu Dhabi Media Investment Company (ADMIC).
But that figure may change as Euronews plans to increase its capital to raise new funds, Peters said.
Euronews used to be owned by a consortium of state-owned European channels before the Sawiris took control of it in 2015.
Last year, Comcast's NBC News sold its 25% stake in the broadcaster to Sawiris.
Euronews total sales plunged by 23% in 2020 from a year earlier to 58 million euros in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and it recorded losses of 16 million euros over that year, Peters said.
Peters, who is stepping down as CEO to become chairman, said he expected annual losses to narrow to around 8 million euros in 2022, notably thanks to new streams of revenues stemming from franchise agreements and partnerships.
(This story corrects sales and losses figures in paragraph 9)
(Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain; Editing by Susan Fenton and GV De Clercq)