Hungama suspends private equity plans

MUMBAI: Hungama TV has defered its plans for private placement of equity as it has substantially closed its funding requirements of Rs 622 million.

Hungama TV has put together Rs 520 million through equity and debt. UTV has already invested Rs 100 million from the proceeds of the stake sale in Vijay TV to Star Group in August 2004 and is expected to invest another Rs 100 million from its initial public offering (IPO). UTV's investment of Rs 200 million is bifurcated between investment into equity and convertible preferential shares.

Promoter Ronnie Screwvala is investing Rs 98.5 million, representing his share of equity participation in Hungama TV. His holding in the kids channel is 51 per cent while 49 per cent is with UTV, a company of which he is the founder-promoter.

Hungama TV has got approval for a fresh debt of Rs 120 million, in addition to Rs 100 million raised from UTI Bank. With this, Hungama TV has tied up a funding of Rs 520 million.

There is, thus, no need in the near future to find an equity investor. The mandate to Lazard for the private placement has expired and no fresh arrangement has been struck to revive talks with private equity investors.

"Since the funding requirement is substantially closed, we have deferred our efforts on inviting private equity in Hungama TV. The earlier mandate given to Lazard is not pursued by us anymore. We will at the appropriate time start the process of inviting private equity investment, depending on the future requirements of Hungama TV," informs D'Mello.

Screwvala had earlier stated that a part of the equity stake in the kids channel would be offered to investors through a private placement. But after the sale of Vijay TV and with plans to float an IPO in February, Screwvala has decided to wait for Hungama TV to mature before diluting stake in the channel. The kids channel was launched in September 2004.

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