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Big TV plans to divest 49% stake
Anil Ambani’s ADAG may be first off the block to take advantage of liberalised FDI norms in DTH. Big TV is ready for some big investment. The DTH subsidiary of Reliance Communication is wooing foreign players to sell upto 49 per cent stake in the company and raise $1-1.5 billion. Also, DTH players like DirecTV and Echo Star are in talks and PE funds like Carlyle, KKR and Sequoia Capital too have approached the company.

Sanjay Behl, COO of Big TV, said, “We are looking to divest equity upto 49 per cent and we have got positive response from many investors.”

Well, according to sources, the deal is likely to be closed in the next 8 to 12 weeks. If completed, this could be the largest deal in the direct-to-home space, which is growing 50 per cent every year.

The DTH market has 15 million subscribers and among paid DTH, Dish TV is the largest with around 5 million followed by Tata Sky with 3.4 million subscribers. While Sun is the third biggest with 3 million subscribers, Big TV is fourth with 1.5 million users.

“We are aiming to go aggressive on our rollout and we expect that in the next one year we will have 30 per cent of the DTH market,” said Behl.

Although DTH players can sell 49 per cent stake to foreign players, the cap for direct FDI is 20 per cent. So, according to industry sources the deal could involve a consortium of international DTH players and PE funds buying stake in the company.

And now, with a stable political regime in place, the FDI cap may be liberalised further soon.

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