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Blackstone to invest $ 275 million in Ramoji

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MUMBAI: In the single-largest investment in Indian media, global private investment firm Blackstone Group has announced it will be pumping in $ 275 million (approximately Rs 12.38 billion) to acquire a stake in Ushodaya Enterprises Limited (UEL), the holding company that manages Ramoji Rao's media assets.

While yesterday's announcement gave no details on the quantum of the stake that Blackstone would be taking in the south Indian media baron's closely held company, media reports have put it at 26 per cent. This would put UEL's enterprise valuation at $1.06 billion.

In addition to the $ 275 million that UEL is raising from Blackstone, it is also taking $190 million of bank financing, bringing the total financing it expects to raise to $465 million. As part of the agreement, Blackstone will have representation on the Board of UEL.

The transaction is subject to regulatory approval by Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) and the information and broadcasting ministry.

UEL chairman Ramoji Rao stated, "We were impressed with Blackstone's disciplined and highly rigorous investment process and the ability to combine this emphasis with a deep and genuine respect for the promoter's interests and desire to add value. The company had access to several financing options, including an IPO; but we decided to go with Blackstone because we believe that at this stage of our growth we have an opportunity to create significant value by leveraging Blackstone's outstanding experience and track record in the global media sector."

Akhil Gupta, chairman and managing director of Blackstone Advisors India Private Limited, stated, "We believe that the Indian media sector will be a key beneficiary of a secular trend in growth in personal consumption that is driving India's economic expansion which in turn will spur advertising growth. Importantly, we believe that UEL is an ideal platform for Blackstone to play this highly attractive sector in India.."

Kotak Investment Banking acted as the sole investment banking advisor to the transaction.

UEL owns Eenadu, the third largest newspaper, and ETV, the fourth largest private television broadcasting network in the country. The parent company of UEL, Ramoji Group, owns the 1,600-acre Ramoji Film City, which is Asia's largest studio, apart from diversified interests in hotels, foods and financial services.

The Blackstone Group is a global private investment and advisory firm that has has raised a total of more than $75 billion for alternative asset investing since its formation of which over $30 billion has been for private equity investing

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