Videocon d2h & Reliance Digital finding ways to wriggle out of tough situations

MUMBAI: DTH companies in India are facing a tough time. While Videocon is making several significant moves to reduce its heavy debt, Reliance Digital TV is reportedly in talks with a Malaysian company to sell the business.

Videocon is trying to repay its debt by selling some of its businesses such as Kenstar and merge its direct-to-home (DTH) division with Dish TV. But, if the Petrobras project takes off, it will be in a comfortable position, and could look at exiting the project at a later stage, a
Videocon lender, who would accompany petroleum ministry’s delegation to Brazil, told the Financial Express.

On the other hand, Astro Malaysia is reportedly doing the due diligence of Anil Ambani's Reliance Digital TV, the DTH business of the listed Reliance Communications, for working out a suitable valuation, a source told the Times of India. An RCom spokesperson, it was reported, has denied commenting on the story.

Videocon was recently declared a NPA by Dena Bank. The visit to Brazil was postponed to June; it will be a meeting between the governments of Brazil and India, but the bankers hope to lobby for faster resolution of the project so that Videocon’s cashflows improve.

Airtel DTH, Dish TV and Videocon d2h have about two-thirds (65 percent) of market share of the DTH universe by private players in India. However, the DTH industry seems to be on a downward slide. Reports submitted by the carriage industry indicate that DTH subscriber additions in the extended period have been low.

Now, if the transaction between Ambani and Astro goes through, it will be the second deal between the two. Astro shareholder T Ananda Krishnan's Maxis Communications is a significant shareholder of Aircel, which is about to be combined with RCom's wireless unit.

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