Digitisation: Hathway needs Rs 3 bn in 2nd phase; no plans to dilute equity

MUMBAI: Hathway Cable & Datacom plans to invest Rs 3 billion for the second phase of digitisation as it details a requirement of around 3.5 million set-top boxes (STBs) to place in consumer homes across the cities where its cable TV service is available.

Hathway will not need to raise equity financing and will fund the second phase through a mix of debt and vendor financing.

“We are under no pressure to raise equity financing and have adequate headroom for getting additional debt. We also have vendor financing facilities. Of the total investments that we make, 70 per cent will be through vendor financing,” Hathway Cable & Datacom managing director and CEO K Jayaraman tells

Hathway’s net debt stands at Rs 4.60 billion, including Rs 1 billion of vendor credit.

The multi-system operator (MSO) has already seeded 1.5 million STBs in the 22 cities that fall under the next round of digitisation. The government has mandated 31 March 2013 as the deadline for digitisation in 38 cities, but industry experts feel an extension would be granted for a limited period.

“Our preliminary estimate is that we would have a demand for five million STBs. We have already deployed 1.5 million boxes,” says Jayaraman.

Hathway expects to deploy 2.5 million STBS in the first phase of digitisation where it operates in three of the four metros. While in Mumbai and Delhi it operates directly, in Kolkata it has a presence through its joint venture company Gujarat Telelinks Pvt Ltd (GTPL). GTPL, in which Hathway has 50 per cent stake, acquired majority stake in Kolkata Cable and Broadband Pariseva.

“We have already seeded 1.7 million STBs in the three metros. We have set an internal target of 2-2.5 million boxes as we see a rising demand,” elaborates Jayaraman.

Hathway spent Rs 1.20 billon on capital expenditure in the first half of this fiscal. For the three-month period ended 30 September, Hathway narrowed its net loss to Rs 17.84 million against Rs 158.71 in the trailing quarter. Revenue fell three per cent to 1.32 billion from Rs 1.36 billion in the first quarter.

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