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Atlas Consolidated in $200 mn JV with former IMCL CEO Nagesh Chhabria

MUMBAI: Former IndusInd Media & Communications Ltd (IMCL) chief executive officer Nagesh Chhabria, who runs a cable TV business, has roped in Atlas Consolidated LLC as a joint venture partner to capitalise an ambitious $200 million (Rs 1,200 crore) project that is set to disrupt the market.

Atlas Consolidated, a joint venture between US-based Greenwich Equity Partners and Sanjiv Mohan Gupta-led Jagran Infra-Projects, has signed an agreement with Chhabria’s Bhima Riddhi Digital Services (BRDS) to create a nationwide multi-system operator (MSO) entity. The shareholding of the new JV is not disclosed.

Chhabria will bring his cable TV assets into the new company. BRDS has a subscriber base of one million spread across Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa.

Nagesh Chhabria

Nagesh Chhabria

“The new company is likely to be in place in 8–12 weeks. We will soon announce the name of the MSO and its brand,” Chhabria said.

The deal will mark Atlas Consolidated’s entry into the Indian cable TV market. “We plan to be one of the significant players in the cable TV industry similar to what we did in the other entertainment business,” said Atlas Consolidated managing director Sanjiv Mohan Gupta.

The new MSO is planning to have a pan-India network with a base of six million subscribers in the next 18 months. Acquisition of cable networks will form part of the company’s growth route. This will be either last-mile acquisition or taking majority stake in an existing network with a ready base.

“We will soon announce the network we are acquiring. Ground-level assessments are taking place as we speak. We have numerous tie-ups in place which will enable us to reach our targets in the required timelines. We are looking at a 45-city rollout plan,” said Chhabria.

The organic expansion will be through a fibre rollout and converting a large analogue cable TV base into a digitised set-up with a fixed revenue share in place.

“The cable TV Industry in India still requires 140 million set-top boxes (STBs) to completely digitise the universe. We firmly believe there is tremendous potential in aggregating direct subscribers in Phases III and IV. We are in talks with numerous players in the market to acquire their networks,” Chhabria said.

Atlas will be a holding company for all of Greenwich and Jagran’s investments in the cable TV and media space. While Greenwich Equity is an emerging markets fund with a focus primarily on infrastructure and media, Jagran has a storied pedigree in the production and entertainment space.

“We are excited to be in this space at this time. We feel that there is tremendous potential in this industry,” said Greenwich Equity Group managing director Suhas Kundapoor.

TelevisionPost.com was the first to report earlier that Chhabria had picked up 50 per cent stake in Mumbai-based Bhawani Rajesh Cable & Digitech Services. According to the deal, he had the option of hiking this up to 74 per cent. The deal allowed Chhabria, who had operations in several towns of India, to enter the lucrative Mumbai market.

As reported earlier, Chhabria has sealed a deal with the Maharashtra Cable Operators Federation (MCOF) which will enable last mile owners (LMOs) to launch cable virtual networks operation (CVNO). Bhawani Rajesh Cable will offer its digital headend in Mumbai to the LMOs and Chhabria’s expertise will be used to stitch content deals with broadcasters. The LMOs will invest in the set-top boxes (STBs) and pay a fee to Bhawani Rajesh.

Also Read:

GroundPost: Former IMCL CEO Nagesh Chhabria announces Mumbai entry plan via acquisition

MCOF prez announces launch of virtual cable network for LMOs at GroundPost