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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Santa-Banta plans Rs 60cr IPO

There is something about Punjabi brand of humor that makes it larger than life. From the large volume sales of Khuswant Singh’s joke books, to Jaspal Bhatti’s Laugher Factory to the Santabanta (it is a registered brand!) jokes, the commercial proposition is no laughing matter, reports The Economic Times.

Ask JD Ghai, an IT entrepreneur, who has made Santa-Banta brand of humor much more than a few slapstick jokes. As a chairman of the Chandigarh-based company that owns the brand and website santabanta.com (growing 100% every year), the funny portal is serious ‘infotainment business’ with possibilities running in a multi crore turnover.

It is serious enough for him to consider that some of the millions who hit his website every month might reach back for their wallets for a chance to own a piece of the company that runs the site. In short, Ghai is planning a public issue that would have him laughing his way to the markets for Rs 60 crore (Rs 600 million) IPO, initial public offer, around October.

“The funds raised from the IPO would be used for establishing the brand further and to cover other activities which would include among other things an infotainment TV channel called Santabanta.com,” he told.

The company has been profitable since three years and the following the pre-planned path, the management is hoping to go public in coming fiscal. “The web portal that has a lot of fan following abroad and it alone has helped the company clock an annual turnover of more than Rs 1 crore (Rs 10 million). About 90% of this is advertisement revenue. Some of the best European and American corporate advertise on our site,” reveals the jolly CEO.

The company that started as an idea in the mind of a Ludhiana-based real estate dealer has not only survived the dotcom bust but boomed in the last six years to become a thriving media house. “The portal was launched by Kiran Bedi, with a lot of fanfare just two months before the dotcom bust happened,” recalls Ghai wryly.

As a management graduate who had thriving family business of real estate but wanted to be ‘self-made’ man, Ghai chose to wade through the ‘difficult times’ and braved a split with more technically sound partners to turn around the portal. Eventually, the company shifted base from Ludhiana to Chandigarh three years ago when it became profitable.

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