Television

SET India stakeholder Jackie Shroff says may dilute holding

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 NEW DELHI: The Indian and NRI shareholders may dilute their stakes further in Sony Entertainment TV (SET) India, according to one of the Indian shareholders of the company.

"I, like any other shareholder, am not averse to diluting the stake in the company in favour of the public or Sony. I have the option to do that and may exercise that right too," Jackie Shroff, Bollywood film star and one of the Indian shareholders in SET told indiantelevision.com on the sidelines of a party hosted on Sunday by the Sahara group and politician Amar Singh here to felicitate Kapil Dev who has been declared as the Wisden's Indian cricketer of the century.

In India, SET looks after the affairs of Sony, AXN and SET Max, distributes CNBC India and has a distribution joint venture with Discovery India.

According to Shroff, looking quite spiffy and a far cry from the character of Chunni Babu, which he ineptly essayed, in the latest blockbuster Devdas, he, however, has not made up his mind how of much of his shareholding he will dilute. He also did not spell out his personal holding in SET.

"It has been almost seven years since we made the investment in SET and naturally we would also like some good returns on it," Shroff said in between posing with his fans for photographs, "But I must admit it has been a wise investment."

When asked specifically whether he is aware of SET's plans to go public in India sometime next year if the market conditions are okay, Shroff said, "I have heard something of that sort, but I don't have any details or specific information on that aspect."

According to the information available, the shareholding in SET India currently is as follows: Sony Pictures Entertainment, USA holds a 61 per cent equity stake, while 31 per cent is held by Indian partners and NRIs, and 8 per cent by Capital International, Japan.

In July, SET India chief executive Kunal Dasgupta had told journalists on the occasion of the launch of the Madhuri-anchored K3H that Sony Entertainment Television, part of the Japanese conglomerate Sony, was in a restructuring mode both in Singapore and India.

"We are undergoing some restructuring both in Singapore and India as part of which the Indian operation has undergone work-related changes," Dasgupta had then told indiantelevision.com.

When he was asked to respond to the sentiment among media analysts that the changes in SET in Singapore and India may lead to an IPO in India, Dasgupta had reluctantly admitted: "At some point of time we have to bring the two entities together for valuation

Bringing the Indian and Singapore operations under one company has to be done as the Singapore SET is the broadcasting company, while SET India is the marketing, ad sales and distribution company.

Only merging the two entities will unlock the real valuation of Sony Entertainment if it wants to go in for an IPO, media analysts had opined.

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