Telephoto-In House gets ready for aggressive expansion

CHENNAI: The new merged entity comprising Telephoto Entertainments (TE) and In House Productions are gearing up to leverage their individual strengths and produce content for national as well as international markets. TE already has a daily serial on Star Vijay called Poovilangal (Handcuffs of flowers) and is on the verge of launching a new feature film after the success of Mitr My Friend.

In the export arena the company is planning to co-produce serials in Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Singapore and other countries having South Indian population. The promoters claim that they already have a Tamil serial Ithu Ungal Kathai airing on TV 12, Singapore.

Speaking to, TE promoters T Suresh Chandra Menon and Revathy disclosed that the legal formalities for the proposed merger between TE and In House will happen after five to six months. They confirmed that the move is in the best interest of the shareholders. The promoters stake will be around 7 per cent post merger, says Menon.

TE will look after the creative aspects whereas InHouse Productions team will have the management responsibilities. "In House has produced several serials on Zee, Sony and Eenadu. They will provide us with the requisite expertise in marketing our content," adds TE MD Suresh Menon.

However, the TE scrip is languishing at an abysmal Rs 2.75 on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). On 3 January 2003, TE informed the BSE that a meeting of the board of directors met to consider and approve, inter alia, modifications in the swap ratio.

On 12 December 2002, TE had informed the BSE that it was to convene a board meeting shortly to take on record the scheme of arrangement and has revised the swap ratio for the said merger as follows:

* For every five (Rs 10 paid up) equity shares in In House, four (Rs 10 paid up) redeemable preference shares in TE.

* For every 20 (Rs 10 paid up) equity shares in In House, 11 (Rs 10 paid up) redeemable debentures in TE.

* For every 25 (Rs 10 paid up) equity shares in In House, 17 (Rs 10 paid up) new equity shares in TE.

Earlier, TE informed BSE that the board of directors at their meeting held on 18 November 2002 agreed upon the valuation report, as presented by chartered accountants NM Raiji & Co. The company had drawn up a restructuring programme and as part of this plan and it was contemplating to reduce its share capital by 85 per cent.

As a part of the same restructuring plan, it was proposed to issue new shares in the same proportion of 15 per cent of the existing shareholding. Thus the existing shareholders of TE would receive 15 equity shares for every 100 equity shares held in the company.

TE MD Menon adds: "We realised that our core competencies were on the creative side. We didn't have time to look into the business aspects. I suppose, the marketing of Mitr- My Friend suffered due to the same reasons." Incidentally, Mitr-My Friend was released in the US and South Africa in 10 theatres located in areas where expatriate Indians lived."

"However, our communications positioning for the movie was wrong and on hindsight we should have released the film in mainstream US theatres outside Indian localities," adds Suresh. Mitr will be shown on Zee as part of the Thursday Premiere Valentine Day offering.

The initial public offering (IPO) of TE was made in 2000 after the promoters took over the operations of Telephoto Films, a proprietary firm owned by them at a cost of Rs 22.5 million paid in cash using private placement proceeds. The firms engaged in the same line of business have since ceased operations. The face value of each share was Rs 10 at that time.

TE also raised Rs 52.5 million through a private placement to venture capital firms and private equity investors at Rs 20 per share. The company proposed to set up a special effects and animation studio at Rs 31.5 million. However, TE officials state that they haven't yet firmed up the animation plans. TE has a library with 600 hours of original software.

Some of the better known serials produced by the firm are Chinna Chinna Aasai, Nirangal, Revathy ,Doctors., Nirangal and Boom Boom Shakalaka.

When queried about the existing opportunities in South Indian channels, Suresh says: "There are several production houses in the South such as Radaan and Cinetimes which are doing well. In fact Cinetimes' Metti Oli is number one and is doing better than the others."

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