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Star India completes takeover of Asianet

MUMBAI: Asianet Communications Ltd. (ACL) has become a wholly owned subsidiary of Star India with the remaining 13 per cent stake buy, Star India chief operating officer Sanjay Gupta said, without revealing the value of the deal.

Earlier, in a filing with the SEC in August last year, Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox had disclosed that it had paid $160 million in 2013 to acquire 12 per cent stake in ACL, taking its total holding in the company to 87 per cent.

“We now fully own the Asianet and Vijay TV business. The regional business will continue as before, because that’s the way we deal with our Hindi portfolio also,” Gupta told TelevisionPost.com. “Our South regional business is very profitable and Asianet is a very strong brand in Kerala.”

In 2011, Star had acquired 24 per cent stake in Asianet for approximately $92 million in cash which increased its interest in the company to 75 per cent from 51 per cent.

Prior to that, in January 2009, Star expanded into the South Indian regional market by acquiring a controlling interest in Asianet, a joint venture with Rajeev Chandrasekhar’s Jupiter Capital Private Ltd and White Water Mass Media, which holds the company’s stake in the Tamil-language channel Vijay (through Vijay Television), 21st Century Fox stated in its filing.

Earlier, the company had acquired 19 per cent interest in Vijay Television which it did not already own. The government had in June cleared Vijay Television’s Rs 962 crore (Rs 9.62 billion) foreign direct investment (FDI) for acquiring existing domestic shareholding in the non-news channel.

Vijay Television owns and operates Tamil GEC Vijay TV while Asianet Communications runs Malayalam-language channels Asianet and Asianet Plus and the Kannada-language channel Suvarna.