Bajoria on the Balaji trail?

MUMBAI: One of corporate India's hungriest predators, Kolkata-based jute baron Arun Kumar Bajoria is reportedly on the trail again - and this time, he is believed to have set his sights on one of the biggest success stories in television - Balaji Telefilms.



Bajoria is reportedly consolidating his holding further in Balaji Telefilms. He had told news persons in September that he had picked up a near four per cent stake in the TV production house at Rs 66-68 purely as a strategic investment and would be looking to increase it if the share price went down by another Rs 10. Bajoria was not available for comment when contacted by

However, according to senior industry sources, Balaji Telefilms had not received any intimation on the extent of Bajoria's buying binge in the company, until late this afternoon.

Neither has the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) been informed about any market buying activity which may have resulted in the jute baron's stake crossing the five per cent creeping acquisition limit.

The latest available shareholding pattern in the production house pegs the (Ekta) Kapoor family's stake at 57.79 per cent. This means the possibility of a hostile takeover is remote. Institutional investors' 12.83 per cent holdings in the company include foreign institutional investors' (FIIs) stake of 9.36 per cent. While a tad less than 12 per cent is lying with the Indian public, private corporate bodies own 16.91 per cent stake in the company.

The Balaji Telefilms scrip closed today's session with a gain of 6.6 per cent on the BSE after peaking at its intra day 52-week high of Rs 109.50 earlier in the day. Over 0.3 million shares to the tune of Rs 33.3 million have been traded on the counter on the BSE alone.

Meanwhile, Padmalaya Telefilms company secretary (in Hyderabad) Ram Kumar, told that media reports stating that Bajoria has also acquired a substantial stake in the Zee Group company are rumours and that the company has no information of Bajoria taking up a substantial stake.

Bajoria is known to surreptitiously takeover companies and had earned the title of 'corporate raider' three years ago when he had acquired a 15 per cent stake in Nusli Wadia's Bombay Dyeing.

The good news for Balaji watchers is that ICICI Securities has issued a buy recommendation for the stock. Is the magic back at the Ekta Kapoor-Shobha Kapoor led production house? Observers believe the duo has ridden over the doubts that had crept out about the extent to which Balaji could sustain its programming on the top of the charts with channel partners such as Star and Sony.

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