Indian co aims for China theaters

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NEW DELHI -- Leading Indian theatrical chain and entertainment group, Pyramid Saimira Theatre Ltd. (PSTL) Thursday (20) announced a memorandum of cultural co-operation with China’s Ministry of Culture’s China Society of Music Research Board (CSMRB).

The two entities formed a new joint venture, Jiangsu Pyramid Longzhe Group, supported and approved by CSMRB, to operate theatres and distribute films, and engage in other entertainment, arts and cultural activities in China.

Under this agreement, PSTL will bring “cultural specialists,” consultants in the arts, film, TV, music and dance. CSMRB will also “offer policy guidelines and business consultations for PSTL's foray in China's cultural industry,” the two entities said.

“We will create a huge theatre chain network, food courts, gaming parlors and offer other entertainment services. We will also bring international content to China, and will also showcase and market local Chinese content across the world. This entry will strengthen the growing exhibition and content business of our group and will in a very short time make us the largest exhibitor in the world,” said PSTL MD PS Saminathan.

PSTL currently runs 53 multiplexes and about 800 screens in India, Malaysia, Singapore and North America and has plans of touching over 2,000 screens worldwide by 2010.

It is the second overseas move for PSTL in the same number of weeks. Last week, PSTL announced that its group company Saimira Access Technologies acquired a 51% stake in U.K.-based Spize TV, which packages Asian and niche content for Eutelsat’s EuroBird-9 and HotBird satellite Direct To Home (DTH) subscribers. Spize will launch new DTH channels in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

Spize is expected to offer Chinese and Spanish channels to its current offering of Indian language bouquets in addition to Bollywood movies and music from U.K.-based B4U network.

Financial terms of the Spize acquisition were not disclosed.

In July 2007, PSTL raised $90 million via bonds listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange with the proceeds to be “used for potential strategic acquisitions outside India and other purposes."

In January, PSTL said that the board of directors had proposed that the company would raise $400 million overseas by March pending shareholder approval.
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