Cable TV

Wadhwa says Siti Cable is continually looking for acquisitions

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MUMBAI: Siti Cable, part of the Essel group is not going to immediately get the benefits of the 100 per cent FDI relaxation in the TV distribution sector. This was revealed by Siti Cable executive director & CEO VD Wadhwa to TV channel Bloomberg TV a couple of days ago.

Wadhwa said that the promoters own 71 per cent of Siti Cable Networks; with the non-promoter holding standing at 29 per cent. “At least for the next two to four quarters I don’t see any major benefits coming out to the government in terms of foreign currency inflows into the business,” he told Bloomberg TV.

He added that the company would continue to grow both organically and inorganically in FY 2017. “The industry is going through a tight cash situation. The industry has largely been fragmented,” he stated. “Now consolidation is happening at the cable operator level, it is happening at the regional level. It is only a matter of time before it starts happening at the national level as well.”

He revealed that his company was participating in the consolidation as post digitization it was becoming difficult for the cable operator to survive alone. “We are keeping our eye open because we have identified some of the geographies wherever we would like to expand by acquisition and wherever we see a strategic fit,” he explained.

He pointed out to the network’s acquisitions recently in Maharashtra and Gujarat where Siti Cable was relatively weak.

“In both these places we have expanded through partnerships. In Mumbai, we acquired 600,000 subscribers by acquiring 76 per cent in a local network Scod18. In Gujarat, we have acquired 700,000-800,000 subscribers by doing a 51:49 per cent joint venture in Gujarat,” he revealed.

He said Siti Cable had agreed to take a 50 per cent stake in Assam-based Axom Communications as the existing promoter was comfortable in partaking of only that much equity. “The new Companies Act allows us to control an organization either through an equity stake or through the composition of the board. We chose to get a majority on the board and will be consolidating the results with Siti Cable’s financials on account of that,” he disclosed.

Wadhwa explained that Siti Cable would be more open to taking anywhere between 51 per cent and 76 per cent stakes in cable TV ventures as it makes sense to have a partner who knows the local territory well to still be involved in the business even after acquisition or a partnership.

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