Den plans to invest Rs 1.75 bn in FY’12

MUMBAI: Sameer Manchanda-promoted Den Networks Ltd. plans to invest Rs 1.75 billion this fiscal as it readies to aggressively push for digitisation.

Den is looking at acquisitions in Bihar and Jharkhand, two markets where there is no dominant multi-system operator (MSO). The spend on acquisitions would be in the region of Rs 250-300 million for the full-fiscal, a similar amount that it had invested in FY’11. 
“We plan to acquire networks in Bihar and Jharkhand. We have the potential of being a dominant player in both these markets as there is no strong MSO in this belt,” says Den Networks president - strategy and business development MG Azhar.
Den has no plans to raise fresh capital as the share price has taken a beating and the MSO with a pan Indian presence has decided to go slow on acquisitions in the wake of a government mandate for digitisation.

“We have no plans to raise capital via equity at these valuations. Even as the government fixes a schedule for digitisation across the country, we feel there is no sense in acquiring cable TV networks. We believe the smaller cable operators will realign with the bigger MSOs like Den. Even in FY’11, we spent just Rs 250-300 million for completing acquisitions,” says Azhar.

The MSO with a pan India presence will invest primarily in seeding digital set-top boxes (STBs). “We will invest in the region of Rs 1.65-1.75 billion this fiscal, most of which will be for digitisation. We will focus on broadband after the government lays out the roadmap for digitisation,” says Azhar.

Den plans to seed 540,000 STBs in FY’12. “If the government comes out with a mndate, we are looking at seeding 2.5 million STBs,” says Azhar.

Den has a paying subscriber base of 1.35 million, which is growing at 10 per cent.

Den is sitting on a cash of Rs 2.25 billion while its gross debt is Rs 1.2 billion.

“We have obtained a debt sanction of Rs 2 billion from our existing bankers,” says Azhar.

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