Reliance considering Big TV offers

Rose Major

India’s Reliance Communications is “evaluating” several proposals to bring new investors into the Big TV DTH operation, according to company president Mahesh Prasad. Suitors are thought to include private equity firms Carlyle Group and Providence Equity.

While Prasad claimed that the talks had not been initiated by Reliance, there had been rumours for some time that the company was seeking a foreign investor for the platform. Indian’s foreign media ownership laws currently state that foreign companies must not have direct investments of over 20% in an Indian DTH platform, although this is likely to be increased by the government in the future.

India’s other major DTH operators already have foreign investors involved, including News Corp (Tata Sky) and Astro All Asia Networks (Sun Direct).

Launched just under a year ago, Big TV has 1.8 million subscribers and is targeting 3 million by the end of the company’s fiscal year in March 2010. That will require investment of between Rs5 billion and Rs6 billion (US$105-125 million).