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Thursday, March 22, 2007

SET plans to hit capital market by end of 2007

Nimbus has called a board meeting on March 23 to consider a proposal from Sony Entertainment Television for buying a 26% stake in the cricket channel Neo Sports. SET has been in talks with Nimbus for close to a month now, and the Sony board has approved the deal, using the funds set aside for the abortive bid for Ten Sports.

Meanwhile, Sony Entertainment Television’s (SET) ambitious public listing, is on track, with the mandated investment banks valuing the company at USD 1.7 billion. The firm is planning to hit the capital by the end of 2007 and sell about 10% of its equity.

JM Morgan Stanley, Kotak and UBS, who are the appointed lead managers of the issue, according to sources have been in active discussion with the Sony top management to chart the road map for the timing and value of the issue.

Investment banking sources pointed out that while multinationals do not like to list in India, the listing may be done to ensure the Indian promoter’s and US based private equity fund Capital’s exit.

Capital and the Indian promoters hold close to 32% have been looking at exiting the company for a while now. The IPO will be a mix of fresh issue and offer for sale, Indian promoters will sell stake and Sony will raise money.

SET is now considering launching an Indian music channel for global distribution, prior to the IPO. The company last year had gone through its restructuring process, and had acquired SET Singapore. SET Singapore, is the Singapore based broadcaster, which broadcasts and unlinks the Sony channels.

SET India, on the other hand, is the advertising and sales agent of the Singapore broadcaster. The shareholding pattern of SET India and SET Singapore are identical. While, Sony Pictures International holds 61% in both the above-mentioned companies, the balance is held by local investors and foreign institutions.

The Indian promoters of SET, have been looking at an exit option for a while now. The combined shareholding of the promoters is 32% and Indian promoters include the Singapore-based banker Rakesh Agarwal, Shemaroo Films managing director Raman Maroo, World Media Group Director Sudesh Iyer, MobiApps Holding’s Jayesh Parekh and actor Jackie Shroff, reports The Economic Times.

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