Technology

FIPB green signals Star’s proposal to up stake in Tata Sky?

MUMBAI: The DTH sector has been seeing some hectic jostling for market share and customer acquisition. Now it is about to get another shot of hyperactivity if a report in the Financial Express is to be believed. According to the report, the Foreign Investment Promotions Board (FIPB) has green signaled Star’s proposal to take a stake in its (49 per cent: 51 per cent) joint venture with the Tatas – TS Investments – which will then take a 20 per cent stake in their DTH joint venture, Tata Sky. It will also inject Rs 3.24 billion into Tata Sky.


The report states that following TS Investments’ investment in Tata Sky, Star’s stake in Tata Sky will go up to 30 per cent (sic) while that of the Tata group will come down from the current 70 per cent to 50 per cent.
  
Star had earlier applied to increase its stake in the joint venture. But it had resubmitted its proposal once again as the earlier one had not adequately taken care of the foreign direct investment and cross media regulations in DTH ventures.


The resubmitted proposal, envisages the shareholding pattern in Tata Sky ending up being as follows: Tata Sons (50 per cent), TS Investments (20 per cent), Baytree Investments Mauritius (10 per cent) and Dubai-based Network Digital Distribution Services (NDDS – 20 percent). NDDS is part of the Star group.


What paved the way for the proposal to get the go ahead was the government’s amendment to its FDI policy last year that stated that investment through companies owned and controlled by Indians would not count in the calculation of foreign investment. In the Star proposal, since TS Investments is majority owned by Tata Sons, Star’s stake in it is not being considered as FDI, says a source in the finance ministry. 
 
Additionally, the new Star proposal addressed the issue of cross media restrictions. Since both NDDS and Star India BV (a Dutch company which is investing in TS Investments) do not hold an uplink and downlink license (the criteria to be called a broadcaster in India), they are not contravening the cross media investment restriction of 20 per cent laid on broadcasting companies.


Tata Sky CEO Vikram Kaushik refused to comment on whether the proposal had got the government’s go ahead. And Star India CEO Uday Shankar who had taken a flight to Europe last night was unavailable. Sources within Star stated that they had not yet got the official confirmation from on the same and hence would not like to comment.
 

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