Sony may look at IPO post-restructuring

NEW DELHI: Sony Entertainment Television, part of the Japanese conglomerate Sony, is in a restructuring mode both in Singapore and India. Though company executives did not provide any specifics, media analysts feel this is a precursor to an initial public offer (IPO) in India, which may come some time in the second half of 2003.

"We are undergoing some restrucuturing both in Singapore and India as part of which the Indian operation has undergone work-related changes," SET India CEO Kunal Dasgupta, told today in Delhi.

Asked to respond to the sentiment among media analysts that the changes in SET in Singapore and India may lead to an IPO in India, Dasgupta reluctantly admitted: "At some point of time we have to bring the two entities together for valuation purposes." Dasgupta however, refused to divulge any further details.

Bringing the Indian and Singapore operations under one company has to be done as the Singapore SET is the brodcasting company, while SET India is the marketing, ad sales and distribution company.

"Only merging the two entities will unlock the real valuation of Sony Entertainment if it wants to go in for an IPO," a media analyst with a Delhi-based stock investment firm explained.

To a direct poser as to when SET would be going in for an IPO, Dasgupta said: "Speculations have been made in the media. But to this question I have no answers at the moment."

Still, informed industry sources based in Singapore indicated that SET may go in for an IPO in India after completing its restrucuturing which may take some time yet. 

Singapore-based sources also told that SET may "play a wait and watch game" to see the viewer and advertiser feedback from ICC-organised cricket matches and the next big show, the cricket World Cup in South Africa in March 2003.

As part of restrucuturing in SET India, the earlier system of everybody reporting to the CEO has been done away with. It has been replaced by decentralisation and accountability of work responsibilities. However, some divisions like the HR and the company's CFO continue to report directly to the CEO. 

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