Zee Telefilms announces new plans during AGM

MUMBAI: Zee Telefilms has hired American Insurance Group subsidiary, and SSKI as merchant bankers to divest upto 20 percent stake in MSO Siticable. AIA Capital, investment banking arm of AIG will oversee the equity dilution. The funds will help fund Zee's Hybrid Fiber Co-axial network planned in 26 cities over the next two and a half years. . The project is estimated at Rs 25,000 million, and is being implemented by Zee Interactive Multimedia. Siticable's equity plans are expected to be finalised in the next three months. At the Annual General Meeting yesterday, Zee Telefilms Chairman Subhash Chandra said that revenues in the first six months of this fiscal year are expected to be more than Rs. 450 crores, a 30 percent increase over the corresponding period last year's Rs. 346 crores. But," profit growth may not be 30 percent due to new initiatives and extraordinary debts," Chandra cautioned.

Zee which has eight pay channels, will include Zee TV, Zee News and Zee Music as a part of the DTO bouquet by March 2001. In the southern TV language front, while Kannada language channel 'Kaveri' has launched, Tamil and Telugu language channels will start operations in 2000-2001. Zee plans to launch a sports channel by the first quarter 2001, and will start a test run with 6-8 hours of programming by December 2000. The network will expand the scope of its education channel, Zee Education.

Zee is also re-negotiating with state-owned broadcaster DD for paring down the minimum guarantee of Rs 4,500 million it has given for marketing air time during DD's telecast of matches organised by the Indian cricket board for the next four years. Zee expects to bring down the minimum guarantee by Rs 700 million. AT Kearney, who are looking at restructuring and corporate governance, will submit their report in 6-8 weeks, Chandra said at the AGM.

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