Television

UTV plans to own 49% in UTVi holding firm

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MUMBAI: UTV Software Communications, an integrated media company owned 59.9 per cent by The Walt Disney Company, plans to buy a 49 per cent stake in a special purpose vehicle, which would own UTVi, the business news channel owned and founded by Ronnie Screwvala and his affiliates.

The decision follows the amendments to the foreign direct investment (FDI) guidelines in February 2009 on calculation of direct and indirect foreign shareholding in Indian companies. The changed guidelines consider investment by a company registered in India in a subsidiary as domestic shareholding as long as the company is majority owned by Indian shareholders.

Screwvala and his affiliates will own the balance 51 per cent in the Indian Special Purpose Vehicle Company as the resident Indian and founder promoter of the business news channel.

The board of UTV Software has taken an in principle decision to invest up to 49 per cent in the special purpose vehicle, the company said in a notice to the Bombay Stock Exchange. It will immediately get an independent valuation done of UTVi and have it submitted to the board within four weeks.

Screwvala had earlier told Indiantelevision.com that UTV Software would acquire a 20 per cent stake in UTVi for $10 million. "The business news channel will get funding from UTV Software Communications and the promoter group," Screwvala had said.

However, it could not be confirmed if UTVi had gone ahead with the transaction. The new FDI guidelines would allow The Walt Disney to own up to a maximum of 26 per cent in UTVi in addition to a 49 per cent stake in the special purpose vehicle.

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