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TV9 promoter to sell 15% to Mauritius fund
New Delhi: The regional broadcasting space continues to attract foreign investment as the Hyderabad-based Associated Broadcasting Company has managed to rope in Mauritius-based private equity fund Saif III Mauritius Company to buy around 15% stake valuing the company at Rs 340 crore in less than five years of operations. Associated Broadcasting operates channels like TV9, TV1, TV9 Mumbai, News9 and India Vision among others across Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

This comes on the back of various foreign private equity funds investing in regional channels like Asianet, Sun group and others in the past few months. Within 2010, the regional broadcasters have managed to attract over Rs 1,200 crore in foreign investments. Latest to join the overseas investment wagon is Associated Broadcasting Company that will offload nearly 15% stake for around Rs 51 crore to Mauritius-based SMCL which is a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Softbank Corp.

According to sources, the Associated Broadcasting Company has sought permission from the foreign investment promotion board (FIPB) for the clearance of nearly 15% stake in the company by permitting the amalgamation of Hyderabad-based ‘iVision Media India’ with Associated Broadcasting Company. Since SMCL already owns 80% in ‘iVision Media’, the FIPB clearance is mandatory for Associated Broadcasting as post merger it will have a foreign equity of nearly 15% which is below the sectoral cap of 26% for news broadcasters.

Saif III Mauritius Company or SMCL has already earmarked $200 million investments in India across telecom, media and the technology sector.

SMCL has already exposed its funds to various Indian firms including $20 million in Catmoss Retail Ltd, $25 million in Network 18 Media, around $10 million in Home Shop18 and another significant investment in the National Stock Exchange. Its source of funds are from SAIF, a subsidiary of Softbank Corp. SAIF is also been an investor in travel portal, directory services JustDial, GetIt among others.

Recently, the FIPB cleared the foreign investments to the tune of over Rs 620 crore in the regional media space including those in Jagram Media (Rs 225 crore) and Kal Media (Rs 396 crore). Earlier in the year, the FIPB had cleared a proposal worth Rs 425 crore from the Mauritius-based firm SVJ Holdings in Asianet Communications. Another Mauritius-based PE fund SIDOFI Communications also got the FIPB nod to pick up 10% in Asianet last month.

Source: The Financial Express

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