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HTMT to prefer strategic investor in demerged media firm

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MUMBAI: Hinduja TMT has initiated talks and would prefer inducting a strategic rather than a private equity investor into its demerged media company.

The possibility of roping in an investor would be only after the listing of the two entities. The demerger process is underway and a listing is expected by February-end after the restructuring process gets the necessary regulatory approvals.

"We would prefer to go with a strategic rather than a private equity investor. We feel inputs from a strategic partner would give us a competitive edge," said IndusInd Media and Communications Ltd (IMCL) director-in-charge Ravi Mansukhani.

On being queried as to whether global major Liberty was in talks, Mansukhani said "there were a bunch of them" who were interested in India's cable story. "All investors are waiting for conditional access system (Cas) to roll out before they come with definite valuations," he added.

Unlike Zee's Wire & Wireless Ltd (WWIL) which is keen to acquire 51 per cent in cable networks, IndusInd Media and Communications Ltd (IMCL) is adopting a different business plan where it wants to partner rather than buy out operators.

The Hinduja Group, which operates its cable TV business under Incablenet brand, is planning to offer cable TV operators a share in the demerged media company based on the subscribers they declare. No decision has been taken as to the exact ratio that would be on offer.

"Our expansion plan includes offering shares in HTMT (after demerger) to operators as they form an integral part of our distribution chain. Our idea is to partner with the local cable operators rather than buy them out," said Mansukhani.

HTMT is unifying its media subsidiaries under one umbrella while spinning off its IT/ITES business into a separate entity. As part of the restructuring, In2Cable (subsidiary which is into broadband business) and InNetwork Entertainment (content) are being merged into IMCL (cable TV distribution under Incablenet brand). The parent company for the consolidated media business will be HTMT (an existing listed entity). The demerged IT/ITES entity will be listed under HTMT Technologies.

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