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It happens only in indya, Star opts to buy out portal

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Star has finally taken a full-fledged leap into the dotcom pool. Confirming its confidence in the Internet space, Star India today hoicked its stake in the much-hyped portal indya.com to "almost 100 per cent."

A joint release from Star and indya.com states that the Rupert Murdoch-promoted firm has bought the entire shareholding of founder and Microland chairman Pradeep Kar, and other investors. Kar had established indya.com in April 2000.

The market was abuzz for long that Star would gobble up indya.com in toto but its management had consistently pooh-poohed that possibility. Star had earlier paid out $ 50 million for a 37 per cent stake in the portal but that was before the worldwide dotcom meltdown. No further details were available on how much Star paid to buy out Kar and associates, but official sources say current valuations are significantly lower. Some estimates put the figure at about $25 million.

Gary Walrath, executive vice-president, Star Group Ltd, has been appointed chairman of indya.com while CEO Sunil Lulla will continue to head the dotcom, assisted by Indya's management team, says the company release.

The website is planned to become the online destination for all of Star's India properties on its TV channels today and in future. Already, Star Plus, Star Movies, Star World and Channel [V] have been integrated into indya.com and will soon be joined by the group's other channels in the coming months.

The press release says benefits will also accrue to indya.com. "The alignment will give consumers and users an opportunity to interact more with Star on the internet and see more of indya.com on television," it states.

Recently the website launched interactive applications and multimedia content built around some of Star's popular programmes like Kaun Banega Crorepati, Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Kaahin Kissii Roz, Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki, Ji Mantriji (all on Star Plus), Friends, X-Files, Ally McBeal and Baywatch (on Star World).

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