November 2007
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Prime Focus to acquire 2 US firms for $43 mn

Post-production firm Prime Focus on Thursday said it will acquire two US firms – Post Logic Studios and Frantic Films – for $43 million, a move that would broaden the global footprint of the company. Prime Focus Group is in advanced negotiations with two unlisted entities in North America and is close to reaching a final agreement to this effect, the company said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange. These acquisitions would add to the global footprint of Prime Focus, which currently has six visual effects and post- production facilities across India and four facilities in London. The acquisition would also add rights to over 55,000 sq ft of real estate in Hollywood and a talent pool of 200 new staff, the company said. Besides, it would give Prime Focus Group access to the R&D division of Frantic Films, which develops and markets visual effects software solutions. […]

Walt Disney set to take control in UTV

It could be a big showtime for entrepreneur Rohinton “Ronnie” Screwvala. The US based $63 billion entertainment giant, The Walt Disney Company Ltd, the company behind Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck cartoons, is all set to acquire management control in UTV Software Communications Ltd, the company promoted by Screwvala. Disney had acquired 14.85 per cent in UTV at Rs 200 per share in August 2006 and will acquire 11 to 15 per cent more through a private placement of new shares at around Rs 1,250 per share, industry sources told Hindustan Times. The deal, if it goes through, could pave the way for Disney to set foot in the country's exploding entertainment market through its hold over one of the foremost content producers. Walt Disney, which is expected to make a public offer to minority shareholders under regulatory rules to buy 20 per cent more stakes, plans to ramp up its operations in India that include setting up of mega theme parks and a captive production centre for its global business. The fresh funds would be used to build infrastructure to create software for the global operations. Screwvala and associates currently control 30.67 per cent in UTV and his stake is expected to come down to 26 per cent after the placement of new shares. Despite repeated attempts, the UTV chief could not be reached for his comments. Sources said the deal is expected to close in December itself. At the current market value of about Rs 1,800 crore, Screwvala and associates have stakes worth well over Rs 500 crore. […]

mGinger gets $2 mn VC funding

mGinger, a Bangalore-based start-up in mobile advertising, today announced that it has attracted $2 million in funding from Draper Fisher Jurvetson and NEA-IndoUS Ventures. The company will use proceeds of the financing to significantly grow its business, build up their technology stack and ramp up their marketing and sales force. mGinger provides advertisers with permission-based, targeted marketing. mGinger enables advertisements including offers, vouchers, news and more, sent in the form of SMS on consumers’ mobile phones. These advertisements are specific to consumer interests and demographics mentioned during sign-up ( and received only in the timings that consumers specify. An additional value-add for consumers, is the earning potential of receiving these advertisements, which is redeemed through a gift cheque from mGinger. “We at mGinger believe that there is much more to mobile phones than receiving advertisements through text messages.” said Chaitanya Nallan, CEO, Gingersoft Media Private Limited. “With this funding, we look forward to bringing a lot more innovative services to mobile users in the near future and opening up this potentially huge market in India. We are delighted to have investors like DFJ and NEA partner with us in this venture.” “We are ecstatic about not only what mGinger has accomplished but what the prospects are.” said Mohanjit Jolly, Executive Director, Draper Fisher Jurvetson. “The ubiquitous presence of the mobile phone in India and the SMS usage makes this a highly promising market and serves as a potential ‘holy grail’ for consumers as well as advertisers.” […]

DE Shaw to invest $60 mn in Gemini Inds

DE Shaw, one the largest global providers of alternative assets, is investing close to $60 million (Rs 240 crore) in Gemini Industries and Imaging, Chennai, one of the oldest media houses in the country. The Gemini Group has its interests in film production, equipment hiring and lab processing for the motion picture business. The group has over 75 per cent market share in the equipment hiring business and over 50 per cent market share in the processing lab business for motion picture across Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam film industries. However, when contacted Anil Chawla, CEO, DE Shaw India declined to comment on the issue. The Gemini group equipped with this equity infusion, plans to set up the exhibition business in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh over the next 24 months. The first of 11 multiplex screens will kick start their operations by the end of 1st quarter of 2008 in Chennai. By 2011 they are expected to control over 300 screens. […]

Securitas invests $17 mn in India's Walsons

Sweden-based Securitas, the world's largest security organisation, has invested $17 million (about Rs 68 crore) in city-based Walsons Services Pvt Ltd to foray into the India's Rs 4,500-crore private security agency market. The 49 per cent stake buy by Securitas is a first such deal in the private security space in India. “Securitas was looking at a partner to enter India and our company emerged as the preferred associate for the Swedish firm. With Walsons' in-depth knowledge of the market and Securitas 60 year experience operating in the field, both the companies are confident of further expanding the business,” Walsons Founder and Chairman Arjun Walia said He said as per the agreement, Securitas and Walsons would operate in India as partners and would look at expanding operations pan-India both organically and inorganically. […]

Valuemart acquires majority stake in Datatalk services

Bangalore-based IT and BPO company Valuemart Info Technologies has acquired a 74% stake in Datatalk Services to broaden its outsourcing services to expanded client base. Datatalk will become a subsidiary of the company. Datatalk offers direct marketing, customer acquisition and retention, and telemarketing services to its clients such as Airtel, Club Mahindra, Deutsche Bank, Nestle, Pepsi, Tektronics, and Zee Television. Datatalk currently operates a 100 seat facility in Bangalore and plans to set up an additional 200 seats capacity in Bangalore and Hyderabad in the next six months. […]

Ipsos Buys Research Firms in India

Global group Ipsos has bought a controlling share of India's Indica Research. Indica was founded in 1994 and now employs more than 150 full-time staff at its offices in Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata. The firm ranks among the top five survey-based research companies in India, and last year its turnover reached 146m INR (€2.9m). Ipsos has acquired 75% of the company with an option to increase its share at a later date. Outlining the reasons behind the investment, Richard Mecchi, CEO of Ipsos in the Asia Pacific region, explained: ‘It was important to reinforce our presence in this country where market research market grew by 17% in 2006.’ […]

BCCL picks up stake in MARG Constructions

Bennett, Coleman & Company (BCCL) has acquired a stake in Chennai- based MARG Constructions. MARG Constructions is among India's fastest growing diversified infrastructure development companies. Established in 1994, MARG Constructions is listed on the Bombay, Madras and the Luxembourg stock exchanges. The company is promoted by G R K Reddy, who channelled MARG into infrastructure projects as diverse as IT Parks, power, ports, roads, retail and real estate. Commenting on the tie-up, Reddy, CMD of MARG said, ‘‘We aspire to maximize value to our stakeholders by continuously identifying opportunities, developing people, processes and systems. Our methodology integrates innovation and world-class technologies with professionalism and social responsibility. Times Group's investment would reinforce our confidence in the company's future.'' […]

3i India infra fund invests $101 mn in Soma Enterprise

3i India Infrastructure Fund, part of the London-based private equity and venture capital company 3i Group Plc, has invested $101 million (about Rs 404 crore) for a minority stake in Hyderabad-based engineering and construction firm Soma Enterprise Limited. Soma Enterprise Director Ankineedu Maganti and his family will continue to hold a majority stake in the company. This is the second investment made by 3i in India. The fund had in October 2007 invested $227 million for a minority stake in Adani Power, a subsidiary of Adani Group, marking its first investment in India. Soma Enterprise, with an order book of over $1.6 billion, specialises in multi-disciplinary engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts across segments such as roads, irrigation, hydropower and urban infrastructure. […]