Sahara One comes under control of promoters

MUMBAI: Sahara Group promoters have taken back operational control of Sahara One Media and Entertainment Ltd.

Seemanto Roy, the younger son of Sahara chairman Subroto Roy, has been made head of the company and CEO Shantonu Aditya will report directly to him.
Earlier, Percept promoter Shailendra Singh was managing the operations and Aditya was in effect reporting to him.

"Percept was acting as the representative of Sahara for the Group's entertainment business. Sahara One employees were involved with Percept. Under the new arrangement, Roy will be directly involved," a source close to the company says.

Singh, however, will continue to advise Roy. In an internal circular, the company has communicated the structural change.

"In order to strengthen the activities of Sahara One, Seemanto Roy will head Sahara One's business. Shailendra Singh will be the advisor to Roy," the circular says.

Incidentally, Subroto Roy's elder son Sushanto was earlier looking at Sahara's media and entertainment business.
Seemanto will also be responsible for setting up Sahara's film city in addition to Amby Valley housing project, which falls in his portfolio.

Sahara One runs two TV channels and is also engaged in the movie business.

The company clocked Rs 2.12 billion in revenues and earned a net profit of Rs 72.27 million for the fiscal ended 31 March 2006.

According to Singh, direct involvement of the promoters is a progressive move as the company is on a major expansion drive.

"We continue to be in the same position as strategic advisors. We succeeded in taking Sahara One's businesses to some level and put a team in place. Now that the scalability of the game is bigger, the direct involvement of the promoters is essential to take Sahara One to the next level," he adds.

Percept has completed 11 out of the 15 movies it was to produce for Sahara. "We are ready with the other four, which we will be doing for them," says Singh, stressing that the relationship with Sahara has not changed much.

Sahara had entered into a management joint venture with Percept almost two years back to handle its entertainment business.

The Hindi general entertainment channel needed to be fixed as it was floundering in a genre which had strong players like Star Plus, Sony TV and Zee TV. Special focus had also to be laid on the movie production business.

Early this year C Sivasankaran's Aircel Televentures bought 14.98 per cent stake in Sahara One Media and Entertainment Ltd for Rs 1.2 billion.

Bennett, Coleman & Company Ltd, owners of Times of India and Zoom television channel, also acquired a small stake in the company for approximately Rs 380 million.

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