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Sony to increase stake in India’s MSM

Sony Pictures Television (SPT) is set to acquire a further 32% of shares in Indian TV group Multi Screen Media (MSM) in a deal valued at $271m.

SPT will buy the shares from local investors Grandway Global Holdings and Atlas Equifin. The deal, which is subject to Indian government approval, will increase SPT’s stake in MSM to more than 94%.

MSM operates several Indian TV channels including Sony Entertainment Television (SET), Hollywood film channel PIX, movie and events channel MAX, Hindi entertainment channel SAB, music channel MIX and sports channel SIX.

Sony expects to close the deal by the end of December 2012. It will pay an initial $145m by the end of December and the remaining $126m will be paid in three equal installments starting from the fiscal year ending March 2014.

“SPT has enjoyed great success with our channels in India and this acquisition further demonstrates our commitment to entertaining Indian audiences,” said SPT president, worldwide networks, Andy Kaplan.

“We’d especially like to thank Grandway and Atlas for their entrepreneurial spirit that helped to get this venture off the ground 17 years ago.”

Investors in Grandway and Atlas include Singapore-based investment banker Rakesh Agarwal, Shermaroo Films managing director Raman Maroo, World Media Group’s Sudesh Iyer and actor Jackie Shroff. According to Indian press reports, they’ve been looking to exit the venture, founded in 1995, for several years.

India is currently gearing up to launch digital cable systems, which should enable TV channels to substantially increase subscription revenue.

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