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Siti Cable acquires 50% stake in Assam’s Axom Comm, plans expansion in northeast

MUMBAI: Siti Cable has acquired 50% stake in Assam-based independent multi-system operator (MSO) Axom Communications & Cable (ACC).

The acquisition is made through Siti Cable’s subsidiary Indian Cable Net Company Ltd (ICNCL), executives from both the companies confirmed to TelevisionPost.com.

ACC, which is now an equal JV between the two companies, will be named ACC Siti. The size of the deal could not be ascertained.

“Siti Cable has acquired 50% in Axom. We have acquired this company through ICNCL. We have three directors from our side and they will have two directors. The JV is already operational,” ICNCL director Suresh Sethiya told TelevisionPost.com.

ACC director Sanjive Narain said, “It’s a 50:50 JV with Siti Cable. They have acquired 50% share in our company. The JV is called ACT Siti Cable.”

From Siti Cable side, the three directors on the company’s board are Anil Malhotra, Suresh Sethiya and Anil Jain. Narain and Gautam Bharali are directors from Axom.

Suresh SethiyaQueried as to why the company did not go for a controlling stake, Sethiya said, “All deals are not the way you want. Sometimes you can have a different deal, so it’s a 50:50 partnership.”

ICNCL has operations in Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha. It didn’t have operations in the northeast. “We are present in most of East India like Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal and Odisha. Northeast was the missing piece. Now we have presence there as well,” Sethiya noted.

The JV has presence in Assam and Meghalaya. As part of its expansion strategy, it will expand into the remaining five northeast states of India.

According to Narain, the partnership with Siti will help with faster expansion. The JV is targeting over one million subscribers in the northeast. In digital addressable system (DAS) Phase III, Axom has seeded 300,000 set-top boxes (STBs) in Assam.

“We did a JV to expand faster. In Phase III, we have seeded 300,000 STBs. We are targeting about a million subscribers in the next two years from northeast,” Narain stated.

Axom has a vendor financing deal with Cisco Capital for supply of Cisco STBs. The MSO is also upgrading its digital headend to increase its capacity to 500 channels. The new digital headend will be procured from Cisco.

“We are using Cisco STBs through vendor financing. We have a digital headend of our own for the last six years. We are upgrading it to make it a 500-channel headend. We are buying the headend from Cisco,” Narain averred.

The MSO plans to offer 440 SD and 60 HD channels. It is also planning to offer broadband services going forward. “We are looking at fast growth with Siti coming in,” Narain said.

Siti Cable had earlier announced its agreement to acquire seven small-sized cable TV companies, including Mumbai-based Scod18 Networking.

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