UTV Software buys out chnl group shareholder

Rose Major

Indian media group UTV Software Communications, in which Walt Disney is a major shareholder, has increased its stake in subsidiary UTV Global Broadcasting by 10% for Rs329.7 million. At the same time, the company also plans a change of ownership for business news channel UTVi.

UTV Software currently owns 75% of UTV Global Broadcasting and will buy the extra stake from Unilazer Exports & Management Consultants. The deal values the broadcaster at just under Rs3.3 billion, some way lower than when Disney bought into the company in the middle of last year, when UTV Global Broadcasting was valued at Rs8 billion.

The broadcaster owns and operates four channels, UTV Movies, UTV World Movies, Bindass and Bindass Movies.

In November 2008, UTV Software Communications sharply reduced its investment plans in UTV Global Brodcasting and closed its Delhi operation. The broadcaster is now run only from Mumbai, and investment of over Rs3 billion has been reduced to no more than Rs1 billion.

Disney owns 15% of UTV Global Broadcasting outright, and has had majority control over UTV Software since early December although operational control remains with founder Ronnie Screwvala.

As for the UTVi changes, UTV Software is planning to buy a 49% stake in an investment vehicla for UTVi. The balance will be owned by UTV founder Ronnie Screwvala. The changes follow amendments to foreign direct investment guidelines and could allow Disney to own 26% of UTVi as well as the investment through the new vehicle.