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Help Astro says ties with Sun TV dates back to 1996
PETALING JAYA: Astro All Asia Networks plc, in a note to the chief of India's Central Bureau of Investigation A.P. Singh, said that its relationship with India's Sun TV dated back to 1996 and it has denied that its investment cost for its 20% stake in Sun Direct was a quid pro quo for the purchase of Aircel Ltd by Maxis Communications Bhd (MCB), sources said.

In a letter dated Oct 10, Astro detailed its relationship with Sun Direct, the parent of Sun TV, and its pursuits into the Indian Direct To Home (DTH) sector. Astro had been in talks with Sun TV and other players but the regulatory restrictions in India did not allow it to expand beyond buying programmes initially. However, in early 2004, Astro and Sun resumed their discussions for a joint launch of a DTH service in late 2004.

In March 2005, Astro had considered that the proposed joint venture would require a significant peak cash funding, with Astro's contribution being substantial, at about US$150mil to US$200mil.

Only after both companies had worked on the funding requirements and decided to opt for a discounted cashflow methodology did the board of Astro approve the investment in Sun Direct and that was in October 2006.

Astro said that it and Sun had carried out extensive valuation work in line with industry standards and was found to be fair by independent financial consultants.

It further pointed out that a sovereign wealth fund of the Malaysian Government, Khazanah Nasional, was the second largest shareholder in Astro and participated in the decision-making process.

The definitive agreements were only signed on April 5, 2007 and Astro only paid the first tranche of payment for a 20% in the broadcaster in 2007.

Astro said it was therefore grossly false to say that there was a quid pro quo for the purchase of Aircel by MCB.

MCB had paid US$800mil to buy a 74% stake in India's mobile operator Aircel on Dec 30, 2005.

Astro had also explored similar opportunities with other players from 1997 to 2005 but did not make much progress because of the regulatory restrictions. The other players included Doordarshan, Business India TV Group, and even Zee TV.

Astro had also looked at alternate opportunities in India to collaborate on DTH services. Informal talks were held with other players but little progress was made due to 20% restrictions on foreign shareholding. Most existing players already had strategic investors and there was no scope for other foreign players (like Astro) to invest in those ventures, Astro said in the letter.

Its relationship with Sun TV began in 1996 when it started buying Tamil language programmes for its pay-TV platform in Malaysia.

It was a commercial relationship with the Sun Group dating back to 1996 and this relationship had continued till today because of Sun's position as a market leader in the cable-TV business and with its content library and large offering of TV channels made Sun a natural choice for Astro to partner for its DTH venture, Astro said.

Source: The Star

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Looks like Maran's are preparing in the background on how to fightout the issue in court.... More to unfold.. :happy:
Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.. for tomorrow never comes.. live today!!!
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