New Delhi: Bhupendra Kumar Modi, the California, US-based Indian billionaire with interests in telecom, retail, business process outsourcing and multiplexes in India, has acquired a 32% stake in Multi Screen Media Pvt. Ltd, the Indian broadcaster that was formerly known as SET India Pvt. Ltd, according to a person close to the deal who did not wish to be identified. Modi will pay $320 million (around Rs1,325 crore) when the deal, which was signed in California on Sunday, closes in June, valuing the firm at $1 billion, the person added.
That’s a rather humble valuation for the broadcaster which has hit the sweet spot with the exclusive broadcast rights for the popular Indian Premier League (IPL). It was valued at $2.5 billion in 2000 when US-based private equity group Capital International picked up an 8% stake for $200 million. Sony Corp., the US-based media conglomerate, holds 60% in the firm and a group of investors held 32% through two investment firms, Atlas Equifin Pvt. Ltd and Grandway Global Holdings Ltd, that Modi has now acquired.
Opportunities in India: Chairman and CEO of ModiCorp. B.K. Modi. (Munshi Ahmed / Bloomberg)
The purchase has been made through Mcorp Global Pvt. Ltd, the holding firm for Modi’s businesses under the Spice brand, the person said. Mcorp Global’s subsidiaries include mobile telephony service provider Spice Communications Ltd, technology retailer Hot Spot Retail Pvt. Ltd and mobile handset maker Spice Mobiles Ltd. The group also runs multiplex chain Spice World. “We are a TMT (technology, media, telecom) group and are always looking for opportunities in India,” Modi said, refusing to specifically comment on the deal.
“I don’t think any such deal has happened,” said Multi Screen Media CEO Kunal Dasgupta, declining further comment. Shemaroo Entertainment managing director Raman Maroo, who is also a director of Atlas Equifin, declined comment. Other investors in Multi Screen include actor Jackie Shroff, World Media Group Inc. director Sudesh Iyer and Jayesh A. Parekh, chairman, MobiApps Holdings Pte Ltd. Indian investors have been wanting to exit the firm for some time. They had pushed the firm to go public, but despite a series of media reports on the firm’s initial public offer plans, it never materialized. In February, relations between Sony and other investors soured further when the latter petitioned the Bombay high court, seeking restraining orders on calls for additional funds the firm had placed on the shareholders.
In January, Sony, together with World Sports Group, paid more than $1 billion (including $108 million of promotional spends) for five-year television rights for IPL. The first season currently in progress has garnered exceptional ratings for SET MAX, the channel that?airs?the?Twenty20?matches.