Reliance MediaWorks yet to conclude PE deal; in talks to extend exclusivity period

MUMBAI: For cash-strapped Reliance MediaWorks (RMW), a big relief was the promise of private equity financing. But the Anil Ambani-controlled film and entertainment services company said Monday it is yet to conclude the Rs 6.05 billion equity investment deal it had signed with a private equity firm last year.

The company clarified that "no definitive agreement has been executed in respect of the proposed transaction." RMW has not yet named the private equity firm.

RMW said it is in talks with the private equity firm to extend the exclusivity term-sheet period for Rs 6.05 billion investment for a minority stake in the company. The window expired on 15 October 2012.

The company and the fund are in the process of extending the exclusivity period, RMW clarified.

The company had last year announced that it had signed a term-sheet with an unnamed PE fund to get an investment of Rs 6.05 billion for the debt-ridden company, whose entire net worth got eroded due to consecutive losses.

The investment was to be made in a subsidiary company of RMW under which the media services division would be housed.

While Reliance has declined to divulge the name of the PE firm, a report in a business daily had speculated that the company was in talks with L Capital, the private equity arm of the world‘s biggest luxury company LVMH.

Meanwhile, the company which had extended its financial year till 30 September 2012, has narrowed its net loss to Rs 1.16 billion in the quarter ended 31 December, from Rs 1.5 billion a year earlier.

RMW’s income from operations for the third quarter remained flat at Rs 2.02 billion against Rs 2.07 billion a year ago. The company also contained its expenses in the third quarter at Rs 2.6 billion against Rs 2.89 billion a year earlier.

RMW operates three businesses -- film distribution under BIG Cinemas, TV production unit under Big Synergy, and a film and media services segment.

The company‘s loss from film services division before tax and interest widened to Rs 386.3 million in the third quarter from Rs 85.23 million a year earlier, while the revenue from this segment declined to Rs 322.1 million from Rs 534.3 million a year earlier.

Its loss from theatrical exhibition declined to Rs 220.9 million from Rs 510.3 million a year earlier. However, its revenue remained flat at Rs 1.42 billion against Rs 1.47 billion a year earlier.

The television/film production and distribution business, the only profitable segment for the company, posted a profit of Rs 98.88 million in the third quarter, up from Rs 17.39 million a year ago. The division’s revenue grew to Rs 334.4 million in the third quarter from Rs 128.8 million in the earlier year.

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