Sony to buy out private equity firm's residual 6% stake in MSM


MUMBAI: Sony Pictures Television (SPT) will buy out private equity firm Capital International?s six per cent stake in Multi Screen Media (formerly known as Sony Entertainment Television India) to take full ownership of the Indian broadcasting company which is on a growth path.

Earlier, SPT had bought out 32 per cent stake of the Indian shareholders in Multi Screen Media (MSM) for $271 million, taking its shareholding to 94 per cent.

"We are going to buy out the six per cent stake of Capital International in MSM. We hope to do it by the end of this year," Sony Pictures Television president Worldwide Networks Andy Kaplan tells Indiantelevision.com.

Kaplan, however, ruled out a public listing of the company.

In 2000, Capital International had picked up eight per cent stake for $200 million.

Sony?s aggressive growth plans in India include the acquisition of regional broadcaster Maa Television Network. "We are working on it. It is a bit complicated. The acquisition will give us a foothold in the Telugu market," avers Kaplan.

In 2012, SPT entered into a strategic alliance with Hyderabad-based Maa Television Network to acquire a 30 per cent stake. Maa TV Network operates four Telugu-language channels.

Sony will also eye other regional acquisition opportunities in India. "We are looking at building on our own and acquiring companies. We are weighing both the options. We are looking at each region and trying to figure out what the best strategy is," Kaplan says.

In 2009, SPT acquired Bengali channel, Channel 8.

MSM?s other new growth pillar would be its sports broadcasting business. The company launched Six, a sports entertainment channel, last year. It has the Indian Premier League (IPL), cricket?s most lucrative property, as its driver content.

?We are also looking at other sports in which the audience interest will grow. We have the NBA rights and UFC, among others. We will be aggressive for the right property if we feel that it will be a good fit for our channel. But we will not overbid,? says Kaplan.

In terms of rights, he said that both cricket and movie acquisition costs from an industry perspective are on the higher side. ?We try to be aggressive but disciplined at the same time. India is the only market where we are in the sports genre. So it is unique for us in that sense."

Kaplan admits that India is a big international market for Sony. "As a TV market, India has been friendly towards outsiders," he says.

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