Balaji to foray into other genres; start Sharjah operations

MUMBAI: The country's most successful soap factory is looking to spread its sphere of activity into new content terrain. In its latest annual report, Balaji Telefilms has announced its intent to expand into animation and mythological programming, among other new initiatives. Further it announced at its annual general meeting (AGM) today that it would be starting a wholly owned subsidiary at Sharjah for production of serials for the Middle East market.

Balaji has a confirmed order for one and negotiations are on for more serials with different channels, the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) was informed today. The Sharjah unit is expected to be operational by the first week of November, the posting with the BSE states.

Managing director and CEO Shobha Kapoor, while reviewing the company's performance, says, "For years, the Balaji brand has been associated with soap content. We expect to evolve this into new business lines like animation, non-fiction content, ad films and mythological programmes. We are optimistic that with India emerging as an attractive outsourcing hub for animation, our established infrastructure and industry position will serve as a relevant foundation for growth in this new area."

Balaji Telefilms, which had entered the reality show genre with Kosmiic Chat and Kandy Floss, plans to reinforce this with non fiction content programmes like Karmiic Connection and Karbon Copy in 2006-07.

The company produced 2113 hours of live action programming in 2005-2006 generating revenues of Rs 2.69 billion and net profit of Rs 594.2 million. This was buoyed greatly by the company's realisation per hour of commissioned shows to Rs 2.2 million up from Rs 1.7 million last year. It is reportedly sitting with oodles of cash and looking for new investment avenues.

The company invested Rs 131.7 million in captive equipment, three studios, and editing infrastructure in 2005-2006. The company is also reportedly drawing up plans to start a media educational academy in Pune.

Today's AGM also aproved the re-appointment of Akshay Chudasama and Pradeep Sarda as directors of the company. The re-appointment of Deloitte Haskins & Sells and Snehal & Associates as joint auditors was also passed during the meeting.

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