Zee stock soars on rumours

It is happening again. Beleagured media major Zee Telefilms (ZTL) which has been under pressure for the last few months, is suddening gaining support - at least, on the bourse.

This time the rumour doing the rounds is that Zee's promoters have privately placed shares at Rs 185 with a foreign media major as against Thursday's closing price of Rs 118.40 on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). The Zee stock had almost hit the upper circuit filter yesterday at Rs 125.40, before closing at Rs 118.

The company that is being quoted as the buyer is none other than AOL Time Warner, whom Zee is reportedly trying to rope in as a strategic partner. Talk within the company surfaced around a month and a half ago that AOL Time Warner was warming up to getting under the sheets with the network. At that time the ZTL share was trading at around Rs 71. Since then, the ZTL share has been steadily on the rise. 

A ZTL press release earlier this week, however, denied the rumour of any such placement but reiterated that the promoters' decision announced in May 2001 to rope in a global media player as a strategic ally, is still on. ZTL has appointed investment bankers UBS Warburg as advisor in its search for a partner. 

Media analysts, when contacted, say they did not believe any private placement had taken place as yet (at the time of writing), but suspect that someone is playing in the scrip. 

The stock had earlier been on the decline, going down from Rs 270 at the beginning of the year, to Rs 86 on the day of its AGM in late September. The post AGM period saw the scrip hammered down to Rs 71 (9 October). The average volume, which was 10 million, came down to 4 million. But the scrip has turned around since. Today, the scrip had climbed by 4 per cent and was trading at Rs 121.

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