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BW Businessworld

Disney Offers To Buy Out UTV For Rs 2,000 Cr

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Walt Disney Co, the largest shareholder in UTV Software Communications Ltd, has proposed to buy most of the shares it does not already own in the company, which has a market value of $826 million, and delist them from all bourses.

The delisting will be at a price not exceeding 1,000 Indian rupees ($22.5) a share, UTV Software said, representing a maximum premium of 11 per cent to the stock's close on Monday.

Shares of Indian media company soared as much as 18 per cent to 1,065 rupees, their highest in about three and a half years.

Entertainment conglomerate Walt Disney holds about 50.4 per cent of the current paid-up equity share capital of the company.

The other major shareholders, who include the company's Chief Executive Ronnie Screwvala, hold about 19.8 per cent, which Walt Disney plans to buy after delisting at the same offer price.

"Walt Disney has always been interested in most of UTV's business, especially the gaming part," said a local analyst, who did not wish to be named, as he is not allowed to speak to the media. The deal will help the firm diversify and expand its presence in India, the analyst said.

UTV Software, which began as a television content company in 1990, now operates five segments - broadcasting, games, motion pictures, digital content and television content. The company has been aggressively growing its gaming segment over the past two years.

The company, which listed on the Mumbai bourses in 2005, had reported consolidated revenue of 9.47 billion rupees and a profit of 1.38 billion rupees in the fiscal year 2011 that ended March.

Screwvala will become the managing director of The Walt Disney Co India after UTV's delisting. He was not immediately available for comment.

The Walt Disney Co India was launched in July 2004 with its head office in Mumbai. The company employs about 160 permanent employees and on its website it describes India as one the largest markets Disney has invested in for local production.

At 2:31 p.m. (0901 GMT), UTV shares were up 4 per cent in a weak Mumbai market. The stock has gained 61.3 per cent so far this year. ($1 = 44.400 Indian Rupees)