Crest Comm board finalises $ 5.8 million GDR

MUMBAI: The board of directors sub-committee of the Mumbai-based Crest Communications Ltd has finalised the size and pricing of its GDR issue.

The sub-committee, in its meeting held on 7 January 2004, has approved a 0.75 million GDR issue at a placing price of US$ 7.75 per GDR aggregating to over US$ 5.8 million. In its annual general meeting (AGM) held on 8 September 2003, the company had sought and secured the approval of its members for a GDR issue of up to $ 10 million to raise funds for the company.

Crest Communications informed the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) that each GDR would represent 10 underlying equity shares of face value of Rs 10 each. The issue is slated to open on 14 January 2004 subject to approval from Luxembourg Stock Exchanges and will be open for such period as may be advised by the lead managers. In October 2003, Crest had appointed RP&C International Inc and RP&C International (Securities) Inc, New York, as lead managers and Norton Rose, New York, as legal adviser in UK for the issue.

Crest Communications vice president strategy and finance Abhay Bhalerao told that the funds raised through the GDR route would be channeled towards their animation business. Sounding confident about the future of animation in India he said, "In a few years time, the animation industry will be joining the ranks of auto ancillary and information technology in terms of industry status." However, the specific details of the issue would be available once the prospectus is filed with the BSE on 14 January 2004.

In its meeting held on 5 January, the board had approved the offering circular, depository agreement, placement agreement and other ancillary documents relating to the GDR offer and authorized the sub committee (Global Depository Issue Committee) to finalise the pricing and size of the issue.

Crest Communications is primarily into animation software. It specialises in multi format digital production and post-production editing. Its mainline business includes commercial television serials and packaging, ad films, 3D/2D animation and special effects.

Recently, the animation major pocketed a number of international projects. Among them is a prime time television series called Jakers! The Adventures Of Piggley Winks, which is a Sunday prime time show on PBS - the largest terrestrial station in the US. "All the work including the set design, the animation was done here at Crest. It comprises of 40 half-hour episodes. We delivered the work to a studio called Mike Young Productions. It took around 10 months to deliver it," Crest Communications international business head A K Madhavan told in an earlier interview.

"We have also delivered five direct-to-home (DTH) videos which mix 2D with 3D animation called Kids' Ten Commandments. The content is targeted at a specific niche Christian market and sold through Bible distributor Tindale. Five DVDs have been delivered to them."

"Right now, production is on for five DTH videos for a series called New Testament. We are also doing multiple 3D television series and have installed 100 graphics machines for the same. By March, we would have added another 100. The purchase orders have been placed. Our aim is to deliver three television series every month by June," Madhavan had further added.

At present, Crest is working on contracts worth more than $ four million and is negotiating for another $15-20 million worth of contracts.

So far it has produced six full-length animated feature films and over 60 half-hour animation projects for various studios, including its own Animated Hero Classics series. This enjoyed a two-year run on HBO in the US.

In the first half of 2003, Crest Communications had bagged three 3D animation television series worth over $6 million from the US-based Mike Productions. Its competitors in India include Pentamedia, UTV Toons, Colour Chips and the Padmalaya-Zee Telefilms combine.

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