Wednesday, May 30, 2007

'Sivaji' TV rights sold to Kalaignar TV

The ongoing media war in Tamil Nadu between Marans and Karunanidhis has moved from television channels to movie rights. Television rights of the most expensive Tamil film ever made - Rajnikant starrer Sivaji - have been sold to the soon to be launched DMK-run Kalaignar TV.

Since the Maran family owned Sun TV network had till now acquired virtually all major movies so far the acquisition of the Rs.50 crore Sivaji is being seen as another example of the widening rift between Karunanidhis and Marans.

AVM productions which has produced Sivaji said that the film will be telecast on Kalaignar TV after three years. The channel was recently born out of the recent rift between Maran and Karunanidhi.

It will be interesting to see how Tamil film producers respond to this development. Tamil Nadu has a huge fan-following for cinema and the battle for television rights for blockbusters could spill into the current media war between the two channels.

Source :

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Mittal Arcelor may eye Japan steel firm

A Japanese steelmaker could become Mittal Arcelor’s next takeover target as the world’s No1 steel maker eyes technology for high-end automotive sheet, the head of Kobe Steel Ltd said on Tuesday. Kobe Steel president Yasuo Inubushi said the European steel giant, formed after Mittal Steel’s unsolicited bid for Arcelor last year, is entering a new stage in its expansion drive.

Mittal’s hostile bid for Arcelor last year has rattled current world No 2 Nippon Steel Corp, the biggest beneficiary of strong worldwide sales of Japanese cars made by Toyota Motor Corp and others, prompting it to raise defences. Nippon Steel quickly ditched its strategy focusing on high-end products, and has since been seeking growth in size by consolidating domestic and Brazilian firms, while boosting ties with Asian peers such as South Korea’s POSCO Ltd and China’s Baoshan Iron and Steel Co.

Its Brazilian affiliate Usiminas recently announced a $4.3 billion production expansion plan in Brazil, with full technological support from parent Nippon Steel. “We were lucky that Mittal turned to Arcelor last year, not to us,” Nippon Steel president Akio Mimura recently said on a TV programme about its efforts to avoid a hostile bid. Kobe’s Inubushi said his company had no plans to expand through mergers and acquisitions.

Source : Financial Express

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

71 pvt satellite channels to uplink from India

The proposals for 71 private satellite TV channels for permission to uplink from India are at various stages of scrutiny in accordance with the existing uplinkling guidelines, Lok Sabha was informed on Tuesday.
In a reply, the Minister for Information and Broadcasting P R Dasmunsi said the ministry has permitted 222 private satellite channels to uplink from India and six TV channels uplinked from abroad have also been permitted to downlink in India.
In addition to this, 54 foreign TV channels have been provisionally permitted to downlink in India, the minister said.
The minister also said the number of proposals received by the ministry for producing regional films on social causes such as girl child development during the last three years were 67 from Children Film Society of India and eight from the Films division.
There is no proposal in this regard from the National Film Development (NFDC), the minister said.

Friday, May 18, 2007 bucks trend with top line growth

In 2000, when internet companies across the world were shutting shop, this start-up refused to join the crowd and continued with its operations despite the losses – a move that defied conventional business logic at that time.

Seven years later, has recorded a net profit of $2 million (Rs 8.82 crore) in the fourth quarter ended March 31, 2007, an increase of 278 per cent from $0.53 million (Rs 2.33 crore) posted during the same period of the previous financial year.

Its earnings more than tripled to $0.07 per American Depository Share (ADS) on a 66 per cent top line growth, beating the expectations of Wall Street analysts who had projected’s earnings at $0.05 per ADS with 61 per cent growth in revenues.

Its online revenues, which included advertising and fee-based revenues, totalled $6.30 million (Rs 27.89 crore) in the fourth quarter, an increase of 76 per cent compared with the same quarter in the previous year. This is more than the industry average of 71 per cent. The number of companies advertising on Rediff’s website totalled 177 – a year-on-year increase of 13 per cent. However, analysts feel that the company depends a lot on its top clients. For the fourth quarter, the company’s top-10 advertisers contributed around 55 per cent of the advertisement revenue for the Indian online advertising business.

According to vice-president (marketing) Manish Agarwal, the company’s business model has matured, which is reflected in the confidence of advertisers and users.

“This is a result of Ajit’s (Ajit Balakrishnan, CEO) conviction. From day one, he used to stress on the fact that we have a sustainable revenue model and are here to stay,” he said.

To increase its email users, the company last month revamped its website and announced free unlimited storage space. The company had then said that they wanted users to make Rediffmail as the first preference.

The company also launched a new platform Predict and Win. This platform uses neural network concepts to generate odds and allows users to predict the outcomes of various events. Last year it also acquired a start-up. “We strongly believe that Indian start-ups have the ability to produce world-class products. Our partnership with Tachyon is to help in making Rediff popular among the youngsters,” said Agarwal.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Nimbus planning Rs 300 crore IPO

Broadcaster Nimbus Communication, which operates sports channel Neo Sports, is in talks with banks to float an initial public offer (IPO) for nearly Rs 300 crore.

Sources said that four domestic banks and three global banks met the management early last week. The IPO is likely to hit the market in 6 months.

Confirming the development, the company’s spokesperson said, “The management has met banks for the IPO and we are at a very early stage of discussions.”

Early this year in January, three foreign private equity investors 3i, Cisco and Oman International Fund stuck a private equity investment deal with the broadcaster for Rs 552 crore.

The deal is one of the largest private equity investments in the media and entertainment sector.

At that time, Nimbus’ chairman Harish Thawani confirmed that this would be the final round of private equity investment before the company was listed. The investment was through compulsory convertible debentures which was likely to converted before the company’s listing.

Currently, Thawani holds 54 per cent stake in Nimbus. However, post the conversion, his stake would come down to around 40 per cent.

With the IPO proceeds, Nimbus plans to further strengthen and explore new avenues. The company is already gearing up with its home video foray.

Nimbus is believed to be considering a venture in video-on -demand and internet protocol television (IPTV) services having partnered with Cisco which has presence in the space.

The company plans to launch an entertainment channel and invest in sports management.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Corporates take rivals head-on through ads

Confrontational advertising has become the order of the day in India with corporate houses taking on rivals head-on.

While industrialist Vijay Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines is fighting a pitched battle with Jet Airways through its outdoor advertising in Mumbai on the retail front, Kishore Biyani’s Pantaloon has decided to take its rivalry with Shoppers’ Stop and Lifestyle to the streets. Not to be left far behind are the job portals, where Times Jobs, owned by the media company Bennett, Coleman & Company is targeting its competitor

Marketing experts call it the champion-challenger theory. In each of these categories the challenger brands — Kingfisher, Pantaloons and Times Jobs — are taking on champions, who have ruled their respective categories for a while namely, Jet, Shoppers’ Stop and According to advertising executives, these ads help the challenger brands tackle complacency that might have set in to the marketplace, leverage the power of the underdogs and talk to a younger mindset.

In the airline industry, where a dozen domestic airlines have sprung up in the last few years, the new players felt the need to stand out in a fiercely competitive space. When Jet Airways announced a change in livery, their advertising campaign read, “We’ve changed”. Kingfisher retorted with a billboard, placed directly above the Jet Airways’ that read “We made them change!!”.

In the retail segment, dominated by Shoppers’ Stop, Westside and Lifestyle, Pantaloon defied the order through these taglines – “Keep West-aSide. Make a smart choice”, “Shoppers! Stop” and “Change your Lifestyle”.

Rajan Malhotra, CEO of Big Bazaar said, “We have always adopted an advertising model that is aggressive and in-your-face.” He added, “We are addressing our customers rather than giving free publicity to our competitors; we are using them as a reference point.”

As recruitment advertising becomes increasingly online, immediately grabbed attention with their hard-hitting ads saying, “Everyone’s quitting Naukri. And making a beeline for Timesjobs” and “Don’t waste time in a dead-end Naukri”.

Rajan Krishnan, vice-president, strategic planning, Ogilvy & Mather, said, “It requires a maverick mindset that’s not afraid of failure to break into the consumer’s mindset. These ads put champions off course and also act as a morale booster for the challenger brand’s loyalists.”

Ajay Uthaman, associate VP, Equus Red Cell, the advertising agency that created the Kingfisher ads, gave a thumbs-up to the new-age marketing style.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Kapil is exec board head of Chandra's ICL

Former India captain Kapil Dev will head the executive board of the breakaway Indian Cricket League (ICL).

The other members of the board include former stumper and ex-chief selector Kiran More, former England captain Tony Greig and Australian cricketer-turned-commentator Dean Jones.

While making the announcement, Himanshu Modi, business head, Zee Sports, said more positions would be finalised later.

Kapil said he was delighted to be associated with the league and would utilise his experience to nurture young talent.

"It's great pleasure to lead the executive board of the ICL, the first professional league. I will try and utilise my experience of motivating and guiding players, both as captain and coach, to take young talent to the pinnacle of success," Dev, who's the country's lone World Cup winning captain, said.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Murdoch plans to launch Sun with Sun group

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch is entering the Indian newspaper space in association with Chennai-based Kalanithi Maran, owner of the Sun group.

The Sun, the flagship publication of Murdoch’s News Corporation, is in talks with Maran’s Sun group to launch an English tabloid in the country.

Sources close to the development said the tabloid was likely to be titled Sun and would be introduced in south India. The partners planned to launch it in other markets later, they added, but did not reveal the time frame for the launch.

When contacted, a Sun TV executive in Chennai said, “We do not want to comment on the issue.”

According to sources, the proposed entry into print media is a part of Sun TV’s expansion and diversification. The company had indicated that it would raise Rs 2,000 crore to finance its expansion and entry into new businesses such as aviation.

It recently announced plans to foray into the domestic and international aviation industry. The company has put forward a proposal to this effect before its shareholders through a postal ballot, the result of which will be announced in mid-May. The company is also in the process of getting into distribution of content through mobile phones, Internet, IPTV and radio.

Murdoch’s Star TV was the first foreign broadcaster to transmit from India. Murdoch, the owner of newspapers and broadcast and publishing houses across the world, has been upbeat about investments in India.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Thomson in talks to buy Reuters for $17.6 bn

Canada's Thomson Corp is in talks to buy Reuters Group Plc for about 8.8 billion pounds ($17.6 billion) to create the world's biggest news and financial data company, the two firms said on Tuesday.

In a joint statement, the two firms said Reuters shareholders would get 352-1/2 pence in cash and 0.1600 Thomson shares for each share, worth an equivalent of 697 pence a share based on Monday's closing prices.

That would be 42 per cent above Reuters closing share price on Thursday, the day before it announced a bid approach.

The enlarged, dual-listed group will be called Thomson-Reuters and the combined Thomson Financial unit and Reuters financial and media businesses will be called Reuters.

The combined group will also adopt the Reuters trust principles aimed at safeguarding the independence of Reuters news, the joint statement said. The Reuters trustees have a "golden share" capable of blocking a takeover of the company.

Woodbridge, the Thomson family holding company that will own about 53 per cent of the combined company, will vote in favour of the deal, the joint statement said. Other Thomson shareholders will own 23 percent of the combined business and Reuters shareholders will own 24 percent. The deal is subject to approval by both Thomson and Reuters shareholders.

Thomson President and CEO, Richard Harrington, who has transformed the company from traditional publishing to an electronic-based business, will retire on completion of the deal, at which point Reuters Chief Executive Tom Glocer will become chief executive of the combined company.

The firms said they expected to make over $500 million of annual synergies within three years of completion.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Neo Sports, Raj TV in deal for Bangladesh series

In a first-ever deal, a sports broadcaster has tied up with a regional network to telecast live cricket in language feed.

Neo Sports will supply Raj Television Network Ltd. feed in Tamil and Telugu for the India Bangladesh cricket series which kicks off on 10 May.

The telecast will be on Raj TV and Vissa TV, the Tamil and Telugu channels. The cricket series comprises three one-dayers and two Test matches.

The cricket feed will include the Neo Sports logo bug and will present an advertising opportunity for local advertisers and brands to ride on live India cricket.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Toonz`s JV in pact with BBC

London-based First Serve Toonz, a joint venture company between Toonz Animation India and First Serve International, has inked an agreement with BBC for the telecast of a new animation series, based on the Marvel character Wolverine.

As per the deal, the BBC has secured the television rights in the UK for the series of 26 half-an-hour episodes.

According to P Jayakumar, CEO, Toonz Animation India, the agreement with BBC is a good step in quality programming and the BBC will be a platform for Wolverine, which is one of Marvel's most popular characters. The show will be represented internationally by Liberation Entertainment and in the United States by Marvel, he said.

London-based Liberation Entertainment is an integrated independent entertainment distribution company, which is into the business of acquiring and selling film and television content and DVD distribution, digital distribution and TV broadcast sales.

Part of the Geneva-based Comcraft Group, Toonz's client list now includes Marvel, Hallmark, Paramount, Disney, BBC and Cartoon Network.

Thiruvananthapuram-based Toonz Animation operates out of the Technopark on a 25,000 sq ft studio. Over 500 artists work in this facility from across the world including Philippines, Singapore, Canada, the US and India.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Sony pumps in Rs 2 billion+ on movie acquisitions

The World Cup is over and so too has ended the cricket monicker for Sony Entertainment Television's Max channel. The shift in identity to a pure movie channel has seen Max going all out to mop up big, medium and small movies over the last two months, with spends having reportedly crossed Rs 2 billion.

While the chances of Sony's being able to recover the high costs it has incurred for these purchases appear suspect, Set India CEO Kunal Dasgupta has set his sights on maximising revenues through leveraging digital platforms, particularly DTH.

Dasgupta, while refusing comment on the purchase price of the movies his network had acquired, says he views a video on demand service on DTH platforms like Tata Sky as one option that has huge potential going forward.

The biggest slate of titles Sony has acquired is a 16-film package it bought last month from Eros International for a reported Rs 650 million.

The new acquisitions include last year's blockbuster hit Lage Raho Munnabhai and big releases of 2007 like Salaam-E-Ishq, Namaste London, 'Provoked (Hindi) and Eklavya - The Royal Guard.

The Eros package also includes films releasing in the coming months like Partner, No Smoking, Cheeni Cum, Mahatma Versus Gandhi, Nanhe Jaisalmer, Buddha Mar Gaya, Chess - A Game Plan, Friends For Ever, Mr Black Mr White, Mr Hot Mr Kool and Aur Pappu Paas Ho Gaya.

Dasgupta is at pains though to stress that it is not just Eros that Sony has locked in as far as new titles are concerned. "Barring UTV, we have got all the big banners and directors in our movie mix," Dasgupta says.

Sony has acquired the latest titles from, among others, Yash Chopra's Yashraj Films, Karan Johar's Dharma Productions, Subhash Ghai's Mukta Arts and Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Dasgupta points out.

The notable films on the list include Yashraj's Dhoom II and Fanaa, both blockbuster hits, Dharma's Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna and Vishal Bhardwaj's critically acclaimed Omkara.

The acquisitions Sony has made give the network exclusive global satellite broadcasting rights to the original version of these titles for a period of five years.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Vijay TV presents 'you pick your mega'

Vijay introduced 8.30ikku Enna Parkalaam a concept in which the viewers choose what they want to see. This is a one of a kind opportunity where viewers decide which mega serial they would like to watch.

The viewers would be presented with 6 different stories to choose from Monday - Thursday at 8.30pm. To know the pulse of the audience for each of the stories; these 6 stories will be shown to a studio audience who pass unbiased views on each of the stories while interacting with the cast and crew.

Every Sunday the studio audience will discuss the episodes and the phones will be thrown open for the public to vote. At the end of six weeks the viewers will be presented with a synopsis of the six stories during which the voting lines will be open.The story which receives the maximum support among the public will be chosen to continue as the mega serial in the same time band.

Viewers can also interact with the cast and crew of the story featured on BIG 92.7 FM .

The channel has roped in six production houses Magickarma, Yantra Media Pvt. Ltd., Touring Talkies Mediaworks Pvt Ltd., Sri Shapdha, Manus Visions, Widescreen Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. as part of this concept..

Ministry clears IBP merger with IOC

Kolkata May 1 The Union Ministry of Company Affairs has approved the merger of IBP Ltd with IOC. The merger may be effective from May 2 following submission of due requests before the Registrar of Companies.

The merger is expected to inflate the gross sales of IBP by approximately 10 per cent. IBP posted a turnover of net profit of Rs 15,818 crore and Rs 1,244 crore respectively in 2005-06. IOC recorded a turnover of Rs 1,76,339 crore and a net profit of Rs 4,915 crore.

"We have received the due clearance from the Union Ministry of Company Affairs on April 30 and will approach the registrar of companies (RoC) for the same", Mr V.C. Agarwal, Managing Director of IBP and Director-HR of IOC, told Business Line.

While Mr Agarwal did not clarify the effective date of merger, a senior IOC official said that it would be effective from May 2. Both the companies would approach the RoC on Wednesday in this regard.

Company sources revealed that IOC has issued a notice, declaring that the IBP board will be dissolved with effect from May 2 and IBP Ltd will, henceforth, continue as a division of IndianOil.

IOC acquired the Union Government's 33.58 per cent stake in IBP in 2002. The merger was delayed due to several reasons including differences over swap-ratio — which was finally pegged 1.1:1 or 11 shares of IOC for every 10 IBP shares — and last minute investors' complaints.

While the merger was delayed, the company has integrated operations of both the companies beginning April 1, with an executive director of IOC put in charge of IBP operations.

Accordingly, IBP started sharing the supply logistics of IOC. Also IBP lube blending capacities are brought to common use of both the companies.

Once the merger is effected, 30 divisional offices of IBP will be wound up and the available infrastructure will be used for other purposes. Also on the cards is re-deployment of manpower between both the companies

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Mittal paid $1 mn/day in fees for Arcelor win

Lakshmi Mittal, the world's fifth richest person and president of global steel giant Arcelor Mittal, spent more than one million dollars a day in fees for his 33.7 billion dollar winning bid to acquire Arcelor.
The NRI business tycoon-led Mittal Steel paid a whopping 188 million dollars in fees to advisors and investment bankers as part of its bid to acquire its nearest rival Arcelor.

The fees were disclosed in the annual report of the merged company, now known as Arcelor Mittal, sent to its shareholders and US regulators last week.

Mittal, the wealthiest person of Indian origin with a net worth of over 32 billion dollars, ultimately won the battle that lasted for close to six months by acquiring control of the world's second largest steelmaker.

Since launching the first bid on January 27, 2006, it took 173 days for Mittal to get the minimum 50 per cent control of Arcelor shares to make the deal successful and a total of 180 days for completion of its offer resulting in 92 per cent shares tendered on July 25, 2006.

However, Mittal paid about 1.06 million dollars a day to its advisors by the time the minimum tender condition of 50 per cent Arcelor shares was met on July 18 for its bid.

Even after taking into consideration the additional seven days that gave it control of 92 per cent Arcelor shares on July 25, Mittal Steel paid 1.04 million dollars a day in fees.

Mittal Steel had hired seven advisors for the deal, including top investment bankers such as Goldman Sachs, HSBC, Credit Suisse, Societe Generale, Citigroup and Rabobank.