Television

Star likely to have several partners for news venture

NEW DELHI: Star India is looking at forming a new company with multiple Indian partners, whose shareholding would total up to 74 per cent, in a bid 

to continue uplinking news content for Star News from India.

The Rupert Murdoch company is said to be about 10 days away before the final structure emerges. The new entity would then seek fresh government clearances for uplinking, ahead of a 90-day deadline given by the government in the third week of March.

The capital base of the company is also being sought to be kept within Rs 100 million limit.

India-registered Television Eighteen Ltd. today announced a restructuring vis-?-vis foreign partner's shareholding to comply with Indian government rules.

According to sources in the broadcast industry and in the world of finance, Star is looking at atleast seven Indian partners. This way, no single individual Indian shareholder would hold more than 26 per cent equity stake that Star is allowed to hold as per the Indian government stipulations in cases regarding news channels desirous of uplinking from the country.

One of the prospective Indian partners is AV Birla group, which reportedly has been offered up to 25 per cent stake in the proposed company for news.

The sources said that there would be another outfit that is likely to be given up to 25 per cent equity stake, while another 24 per cent stake may be divided amongst several Indians. Star would hold 26 per cent stake.

DSP Merrill Lynch has been mandated by Star India to hunt for prospective partners.

There is also a likelihood that people who are made shareholders of the remaining 24 per cent stake include Indian friends and associates of Star, the number of that is sizeable, including some of those who make programmes for Star.

Though Star India CEO Peter Mukerjea refused to comment on Star News' restructuring and shareholding pattern, he did admit that they are "not very far off from completing the whole exercise."

Meanwhile, the AV Birla group that, according to a newspaper report, has been offered up to 25 per cent stake in the news venture has not denied the report that said it is up to the diversified Indian group to take a decision after consulting its board members.

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