Adhikaris sell SAB TV brand to Sony for $13 m

Mumbai, March 14 | Updated: Mar 15 2005, 05:30am hrs
Sri Adhikari Brothers Television Network Ltd (SABTNL) has entered into an agreement with SET Satellite (Singapore) Pte Ltd (SET Singapore) to sell the SAB TV brand, library programmes to the extent of 1305 hours and related assets for $13 million (approximately Rs 57 crore). The deal will have no impact on the current equity shareholding structure of SABTNL. SAB TV is a 100% subsidiary of SABTNL.

In India, SET Satellite (Singapore) owns the Sony and the SET Max channels apart from AXN and Animax through Sony Entertainment Television (SET).

SABTNL vice-chairman and managing director Markand Adhikari told FE, With this deal, we will get sufficient cash to invest in facilities and equipment. We will also repay our long-term debt in addition to strengthening our bottomline. He added that this would help the company in exploring content opportunities with any other channel genre.

The deal with Sony represents 20% of SAB TVs total content which is in excess of 6500 hours. SABTNL will also enter into a programming arrangement with SET India Private Limited for content supply worth Rs 75 crore. This deal will have no impact on the equity pattern as well as management of SABTNL, said a media statement from SAB TV. Significantly, the major tangible assets like land, building, machinery and equipment will remain with SABTNL. SABTNL will also retain over 5200 hours of library programmes.

According to the statement, SABTNL will henceforth concentrate on its core competence content production. The proceeds out of this deal will be used to create and upgrade the infrastructure for content production business like studios, production and post production facilities, to set up infrastructure for animation programmes and to expand the content opportunity in international markets etc, it added.

On the anvil is also the launch of a current affairs and news channel Janmat and a Marathi channel Mi Marathi by March 2005. At The Stock Exchange, Mumbai (BSE), the SABTNL stock opened at Rs 116 and registered a high of Rs 124 before closing at Rs 106.4 resulting in a fall of 5.83%. The stock recorded a low of Rs 108.30 during the day.

Commenting on the deal, a media analyst pointed out that Sony stands to gain from ready access to an established brand name like SAB TV and 1300 hours of programming. For SABTNL, it can continue to produce programmes for terrestrial broadcasters. The advantage for Sony is that SAB TV will add a niche humour channel to its bouquet, he explained.

Apart from its own channels, Sony also distributes NDTVs channels, Discovery and Animal Planet under the One Alliance bouquet.