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TV 18 may tie up with Viacom

business Updated: May 07, 2007 00:43 IST
Arun Kumar
Highlight Story

The TV 18 group is likely to enter into a strategic alliance with one of the world’s leading media companies, Viacom.

According to highly placed sources, the tie-up could involve equity participation by the Indian television group, which is in the process of raising a $1 billion war chest to foray into the global entertainment business.

Company executives declined to comment on the development but sources close to the deal said the different firms in the group, including Global Broadcast News, Network 18 Fincap and Television 18, were raising funds for the venture.

Global Broadcast News has already taken board approval for raising Rs 2,300 crore: $200 million through a fresh issue of equity shares in the overseas market and Rs 1,500 crore ($375 million) through debt.

Network 18 Fincap, the holding company of the group, is raising around $125 million through a rights issue of equity shares. In addition, it has roped in private equity funds from Singapore to fund the diversification.

The group has also formed The Indian Film Company, which will be listed on the Alternate Investment Market (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange, and is expected to bring in another $110 million.

The $1 billion war chest could allow the TV 18 group to make an acquisition in the region of over $3 billion.

Viacom owns some of the world's best-known cable networks, including MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, Spike TV, TV Land and CMT.

The company operates more than 100 networks around the world and also owns the Hollywood studio Paramount Pictures. For the year ending December 2006, Viacom reported revenues of $11.46 billion with net earnings of $1.592 billion.

The “new” Viacom after the demerger of the CBS division in 2006 is led by 83-year-old Sumner Redstone, who became chairman when his company, National Amusements, acquired a controlling interest in Viacom in 1987. National Amusements is the parent company of Viacom with 79 per cent of the voting rights.

While refusing to disclose details, sources said TV 18 was attempting one of the biggest deals in the entertainment space.