Zee gets shareholders' nod for Asianet acquisition

An extraordinary general meeting of shareholders gave Zee Telefilms chairman Subhash Chandra and the company the go-ahead to acquire 61 per cent equity of Asianet Communications, which runs the Malayalam channel of the same name. 

The cost: Rs 2,550 million plus a Rs 1,000 million as a non-compete cash consideration. Zee Telefilms will issue 2.7 million shares to Asianet promoter Dr Raji Menon (amounting to 0.66 per cent of Zee Telefilms' capital). The non-compete clause forbids Asianet from launching any regional language channels over the next five years. 

Zee Telefilms additionally has the option to buy another 12 per cent of Asianet's equity within the next three years if needed. Asianet notched up revenues of Rs 186 million (financial year: 1998), Rs 254 million (1999) and (Rs 355 million: expected for 2000). Its corresponding profit after tax is: Rs 23 million, 30 million, and Rs 69 million respectively.

"Asianet has a good 75 per cent of the Malayalam market," said Chandra. "Additionally, it will launch Kannada, Tamil, and Telugu channels. The Kannada channel should launch by 21 May. We are buying into the whole story and not just Asianet Malayalam." 

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