Indian movie firms shift shelter from AIM

MUMBAI: Looks like Indian movie production houses are planning to shift shelter from the Alternative Investment Market (AIM).

After raising capital to fund their movie projects and build initial scale, the production houses are finding liquidity, additional pools of investment and scrip movement of their stocks an issue at AIM. UTV Motion Pictures delisted while the promoters of the Indian Film Company intend to entirely buyback the shares.

The latest to express this intent is Eros International. The AIM-listed movie production company said Tuesday it plans to shift to London‘s main bourse after completing its Indian listing.

?It is our intention that following the completion of the Indian listing, we will begin the process to move from AIM to the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange,? Eros stated.

Eros has filed its Draft Red Herring Prospectus with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) and is awaiting approval. It plans to raise Rs 3.5 billion via an initial public offering (IPO) in a parallel listing that would help fund its ambitious expansion plans.

"For Indian media companies like UTV and Network18 Group who were looking at diversifications into movies, London‘s junior market provided an easy platform to raise capital. Eros also jumped into the bandwagon as it sought to move primarily from a movie rights distribution company to a business model that included film production. But shares of these companies lacked substantial liquidity and market cap couldn‘t scale up," says a media analyst who tracks movie stocks.

Eros feels after three years of listing on AIM, the main market will help fuel its next phase of growth.

"We now have over three years of track record of successful growth on AIM and believe that the Main Market represents a natural progression for us given our size and maturity as a business. We also hope to access additional pools of investment capital and liquidity as a result of the planned move,? it said.

Eros, which today announced its preliminary results for fiscal ended 31 March, has posted a profit before tax (pretax profit) of $49.5 million, up 2 per cent from $48.4 million a year ago.

Revenue fell four per cent to $149.7 million, accounted for by a 17 per cent slip in television syndication income to $52.9 million. Cash flow from operations was up 59 per cent to $108.3 million, from $68.2 million in the year-ago period.

Net debt reduced by 19 per cent to $104.3 million, while administrative costs fell 21 per cent to $16.2 million.

Theatrical business

Theatrical revenues grew by eight per cent to $50.2 million (from $46.3 million). The company released 83 films in the year, (as compared to 94 films it released in 2009) of which 13 (2009: 22) were released globally including Tamil and other regional films.

Television business

Revenues fell by 17 per cent to $52.9 million, as against $64 million in the earlier year. Eros said that the fall was in line with expectations as television revenues had grown by 94 per cent in 2009 from just $33 million in 2008.

Eros said that revenues came from new and existing deals with Star, Zee TV, Sony, Sun TV, B4U, Kalaignar TV and other television broadcasters in India as well as dubbed and subtitled markets internationally.

Revenues include subscription revenues from the Ayngaran Tamil television network in Europe.

Digital and Home Entertainment

Revenues from the digital and home entertainment segment were up marginally to $46.6 million (from $46.2 million). The company said that several films were exploited on the major DTH platforms such as Dish TV, Tata Sky, Airtel digital TV and Reliance Big TV in India on pay-per-view basis, marking the beginning of a new revenue stream.

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