Star to take 25 % stake in Balaji Telefilms

MUMBAI: They have been closely bonded for a while now. The Jeetendra Kapoor promoted Balaji Telefilms has been Star India's leading winning content provider for more than four years.

The bonds are about to get stronger with the announcement by Balaji that its board had approved a proposal for a Star Group affiliate to soak up 25.1 per cent of its equity.

According to a financial analyst that spoke to, the buzz has been in the market for a while now regarding this deal, which is why the Balaji scrip has "skyrocketed" in the last month or so. The share, which on 8 July was Rs 57, closed today at Rs 92.15.

Under the terms of the proposal, Balaji will be preferentially allotting 17,263,790 shares and/or share warrants convertible into equity shares representing up to 25.1 per cent of Balaji's total post-issue paid up capital to Star affiliate Asian Broadcasting FZ-LLC. The investment, a notice posted on the National Stock Exchange site says, will be done as follows:

* 13,694,193 equity shares constituting 21 per cent of Balaji's post issue paid up equity share capital (initial shares) at Rs 90 per share;

* Share warrants convertible into unto 3,569,597 equity shares constituting unto 4.1 per cent of Balaji's post issue paid up equity share capital (the warrants) at Rs 90 per share with 10 per cent of the consideration for the warrants being paid to the company at the time of the warrants are being issued. The warrants shall be convertible into equity shares for a period of 18 months from the date of their issue only if and to the extent that, the investor's shareholding at the time of conversion is less than 26 per cent of the total paid up equity share capital of the company.

Commenting on the "buy-in", Star India CEO Peter Mukerjea had this to say, "Balaji has been a content provider for a long time and we thought that the relationship should be made more formal."

According to Star India COO Sameer Nair, "This is a very strategic investment for us. Balaji, because it's one of the best production houses, and also since we share a very healthy relationship with them."

Talking about what this would mean for Balaji Telefims, Nair says, "Well, this is an investment and will have no bearing on Balaji's role as a content provider to channels per se."

Asked as to how other broadcasters would react to the development, Nair says, "I think the other channels should look at this in a very mature manner. It happens all over the world, and its time we mature as a market and stop calling ourselves a nascent market."

Balaji informed the Bombay Stock Exchange that Asian Broadcasting will be making an open offer to acquire shares from the market a price determined in accordance with SEBI Regulations, 1997.

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