Film firm continuing Indian IPO streak

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NEW DELHI -- The Indian Film Company Ltd. hopes to raise £55 million ($109 million) this month in an initial public offering on the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange, the company said Wednesday.

It is the latest in a string of Indian media company listings that started in 2006 that are expected to raise £3.5 billion ($7 billion) by year's end.

IFC's stock market debut is scheduled for June 18. The public listing is backed by Network 18, a unit of diversified media group TV18, the company said.

Listing IFC is part of an ongoing expansion strategy for New Delhi-based TV18, which already has joint ventures with U.S. news giants CNBC (CNBC-TV 18) and CNN (CNN-IBN). TV18 in May also joined with Viacom Inc. to launch entertainment broadcasting venture Viacom 18 (HR 5/23).

TV18 recently diversified to produce and distribute Indian films via its fledgling units Studio 18 and IFC, both based in Mumbai.

Network 18 will hold a 21% stake in IFC, which has shortlisted 14 film projects.

"This is the first overseas listing for the Network 18 Group and we are excited to be in a position where we can invest substantial capital in this growing and lucrative business of film production," TV 18 Group chairman Raghav Bahl said.

Meanwhile, Mumbai-based UTV Motion Pictures, backed by diversified media group UTV, also is close to finalizing its AIM listing. London-based Eros Entertainment raised £22.5 million via its AIM listing in July.

Last year, 11 Indian or India-focused companies raised more than £1 billion by going public on AIM. This year, more than 20 such companies are expected to raise £2.5 billion ($5 billion) via IPOs.
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