Balaji to invest Rs 200 cr in ALT, launch in Jan '17

MUMBAI: Balaji Telfilms' new venture, ALT Digital, which was earlier planned to be launched in October, has been pushed to January 2017. At present, Balaji is not actively involved with programme production. In future, it plans to launch eight shows. January--March cycle is a good time for ALT launch, the management of Ekta Kapoor’s company feels.

Balaji Telefilms raised Rs 150 crore through preferential allotment of equity shares at Rs 140 each to select global investors such as Atyant Capital India Fund - I, Vanderbilt University, GHI LTP Ltd, GHI HSP Ltd and GHI ERP Ltd. The amount has already been capitalised. So far, Balaji spent Rs 10 crore, but the real expense would start from January when it would deliver content, Balaji Telefilms group CEO Sameer Nair said while speaking to CNBC-TV18.

The total outlay for ALT would be about Rs 200 crore in which Balaji would invest Rs 65 crore, Nair said.

Nair said it was looking to expanding in various regions in India. Balaji Telefilms will look to air new shows on Sony, Sun TV and Doordarshan. It had been doing shows across the channels, and it was the absolute leader in the TV business. It does not have a show on Sony, and that was an opportunity, Nair said. They were also producing shows for Colors. Balaji was also looking at the DD slot policy, he said, adding that they would be bidding for a few slots there. In main GEC business, Balaji was doing good, he said.

After reporting a loss of Rs 28 crore as compared to profit after tax (PAT) of Rs 3.92 crore for the corresponding year-ago quarter, Balaji is planning to launch 8-10 shows by FY17-end. Both, television and film segment released a weak set of numbers at Balaji this financial year. Nair said that the new shows have a much lower margin.

Nair said that they look at TV and films numbers separately, and if one sees the TV business year on year, it actually grew on a half-yearly basis. There were new shows that would come on board, so as one could compare it with last year when they had six shows, and they were going to do 10 shows.

Balaji released Great Grand Masti and collections were significantly affected due to piracy of the movie ahead of its theatrical release. When it came to film business, of course there had been a disappointment and, the current quarter saw the full impact of unfortunate incidents that happened with Balaji; Grand Masti 'leaked' 21 days before the theatrical release. Therefore, Grand Mastii and Flying Jat didn’t do well which reflected in the current quarter, Nair said.

About the TV business, Nair said that television business worked on a revolving quarter. There was a reduced margin in the quarter when a show was launched. So, it was ideal to analysed the TV business on annual basis.

Balaji's plan was to get next releases of movies in the next fiscal year, he said, adding that its film business would likely book profit in FY18. On an annual basis, because Balaji was opening at 20-25 per cent, the gross margin would go up by 35 per cent, Nair said. On an annual basis, he said, Balaji could grow by about 20 per cent year on year. From the revenue point of view, that might be little lower because of other income which would be lower this year, he added.

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