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UTV promoter consolidates holding — Draft prospectus for IPO likely to be filed in three weeks

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Mr Ronald D'meilo, Director, Operations & Finance, UTV Software Communications Ltd, and Mr Ronnie Screwvala, CEO, UTV Communications Ltd, at a press conference held in Mumbai. - - Paul Noronha

Mumbai , June 21

UTV's promoter and largest shareholder, Mr Ronnie Screwvala, on Monday announced that he had completed a buyback of shares from News Corp (Star) and CDPQ, a pension fund from Canada, to take his shareholding to 54 per cent ahead of a possible IPO.

UTV Software Communications Ltd, the IPO candidate, is slated to file its draft prospectus with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) over the next three weeks.

News Corp held a 15 per cent stake (4.54 million shares) in UTV Software Communications. Mr Screwvala, however, declined from giving financial details of the deal.

CDPQ had invested fresh equity of 9.6 million shares in UTV two years ago. According to Mr Screwvala, CDPQ has been winding down its investments across Asian markets. "Therefore, I decided to buy 3.6 million shares from CDPQ. The remaining six million shares will be divested at the time of IPO," he said.

The proposed IPO will comprise fresh equity as well as dilution of existing equity. The size of the issue is expected to be 12 million shares of Rs 5 per share, of which 6 million will be fresh issue and the remaining being sold by CDPQ. The timing of the IPO will be decided based on market movement, Mr Screwvala said. "We will track the market between September and November 2004 to place the IPO," he said.

Mr Screwvala believes that irrespective of a slump in the stock market, demand for IPO remains robust unlike during the previous fall in share indices.

Apart from Mr Screwvala, who holds 54 per cent stake, 20 per cent is held by CDPQ and 25 per cent is widely held by investors including IDC Fund and Mitsui Corporation.

UTV, according to him, is ready to become a stock market-listed media company. "We need to be listed to let the investing world know our company profile. When you remain unlisted your profile tends to be discounted," he said. But he did not reveal how the IPO proceeds will be used.

UTV has three principal businesses: television, movie and broadcasting. The television business includes content production (both fiction and non-fiction), animation and airtime sales. The movie business straddles production and distribution. The broadcasting business, vested with associate company United Home Entertainment, primarily manages the children's general entertainment channel, Hungama. Currently, television contributes 40 per cent of UTV's revenues.

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