Balaji looking at minimum net profit rise of 95% this fiscal

MUMBAI: If last year was a stellar year for Balaji Telefilms Ltd, this year promises to be no less on the financial front. Balaji is targeting a minimum top line target growth of 60 per cent and minimum bottom line target growth of 95 per cent based on the recent revision in the rates of its teleserials on Star Plus and Sony Entertainment. 

Balaji's revenue top line for the 2002 financial was Rs 1,103 million while net profits were Rs 290 million. Considering that Balaji witnessed a net profit rise of a whopping 566 per cent from the Rs 44 million it managed in the 2001 financial, that looks highly achievable for the production house powered by Ektaa Kapoor's creative chutzpah.

Balaji chairman Jeetendra Kapoor has been quoted as saying the per episode rate his family's production house charges for Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi on Star Plus is Rs 950,000. Since Star Plus' other top soap Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki is running neck and neck with Kyunki it is also in the same rate bracket.

Balaji is charging Rs 1 million per episode for the new weekender serial it has launched on Sony Entertainment Kya Hadsa Kya Haqeeqat. Kyunki and Kahaani run four days a week while Kya Hadsa runs three days a week so that means the revenue it is generating from just three serials is Rs 11.6 million a week. 

Add Star's other top serials Kasauti Zindagi Kay, Kahin Kissi Roz, Sony's Kkusum and Kutumb, all dailies and what Balaji is earning from these two broadcasters alone can well be imagined.

Balaji's conscious shift of focus from sponsored to TRP-linked commissioned programmes has certainly proved a real boon for the company on the revenue front.

INCREASE IN FII LIMIT TO 40%: Balaji shareholders at yesterday's AGM approved a proposal by the board to hike the foreign institutional investor (FII) limit in the company to 40 per cent from the present 24 per cent.

It was on 29 April 2002 that the company promoters sold a 10.11 per cent stake to a host of foreign funds. The stake sale was undertaken at about Rs 600 per share. The promoter's holding now stands at 57.8 per cent, while the public and institutions hold 4 per cent and 32 per cent respectively. (See related headline: Balaji promoters offload 10% equity to FIIs).

The AGM also approved an earlier decision of the board to split the Balaji share, currently of face value of Rs 10, to Rs 2 per share.

The decision to split the share is to make it easier for small investors to buy equity in the company, it was stated. Existing shareholders will be issued five shares for every share held. The board will fix the record date for effecting the share-split decision.

A final dividend of Rs 2.50 per share was also announced at the AGM.

MANAGEMENT RESTRUCTURING: Rajesh Pavithran, vice president - marketing, was on 21 August re-designated as chief operating officer while Ajay Patadia, company secretary, was re-designated as president - corporate affairs and company secretary. 

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