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Star India completes Asianet takeover, acquires remaining 13% stake for $50 mn

MUMBAI: Star India, 21st Century Fox’s wholly-owned subsidiary, has completed the acquisition of its successful and profitable regional entertainment network Asianet Communications.

Star has made the residuary 13 per cent stake acquisition for approximately $50 million in the fourth quarter of the fiscal ended 30 June 2014.

Paid in cash, the new transaction values Asianet at $384.61 million.

Asianet runs Malayalam- and Kannada-language channels. Asianet and Suvarna are leaders in the Kerala and Karnataka market respectively. Star also runs Tamil general entertainment channel Vijay TV.

The transactions were accounted for as the purchase of subsidiary shares from non-controlling interests.

In fiscal 2013, Star had increased its interest in Asianet by 12 per cent to 87 per cent for approximately $160 million. Earlier, in FY2011, Star had acquired 24 per cent stake in Asianet for approximately $92 million, thereby increasing its interest in the company to 75 per cent from 51 per cent.

Thus, Star has paid an aggregate value of $302 million in three tranches for purchasing 49 per cent equity interest in Asianet.

In 2009, Star India had entered Asianet after buying a majority stake in the company through a joint venture with Rajeev Chandrasekhar’s Jupiter Entertainment Ventures. The company had paid $235 million in cash and assumed net debt of around $20 million for a 51 per cent interest in the four channels owned by Asianet.

Reju Menon and Shashi Kumar founded Asianet Communications in 1991. Later, in 2006, Rajeev Chandrasekhar acquired a 51 per cent stake in the company reportedly for Rs 150 crore.