India's UTV aims for London stock listing


NEW DELHI -- Mumbai-based entertainment company UTV Software Communications said Thursday that it will transfer its motion picture activities into an overseas subsidiary, UTV Motion Pictures, to be listed on the London Stock Exchange's Alternative Investment Market.

The announcement followed a board meeting and a notification filed Wednesday with the Mumbai Stock Exchange to this effect.

Parent UTV Software Communications Ltd. is a media conglomerate with four core business areas -- television, new media (including animation), gaming and postproduction/special visual effects.

UTV's movie credits include such recent films as Mira Nair's "The Namesake" (a co-production with Fox Searchlight), Chris Rock's "I Think I Love My Wife" and M. Night Shyamalan's upcoming project "The Happening" (a co-production with 20th Century Fox).

Locally, UTV's film credits include this year's Oscar entry "Rang De Basanti" (Paint It Yellow), among other Bollywood releases.

"We have matured our movie studio business to a leadership position both in South Asia and globally, and we need to unlock value for our shareholders," UTV chairman Ronnie Screwvala said. "In India we are constantly benchmarked with 'pure play' Hindi movie producers -- and our movie model is far more robust, stable and global than anyone in South Asia. We believe that international investors on overseas stock exchanges understand such a mature model better."

Screwvala did not confirm how much capital he planned to raise from the proposed AIM listing or UTV Motion Pictures' valuation. "I cannot comment on valuations at this stage, but most of our key developments have unfolded recently and so we aim to get true value for our recent consolidation and lineup," Screwvala said. "On timelines we are hopeful of completing the entire exercise in less than three to four months."

UTV estimates that more than 50% of its film revenue will come from international markets while remaining committed to producing "more Indian movies than international ones."

In recent months, UTV has pacted with Fox, Disney and Sony on projects. In July, the Walt Disney Co. acquired a 14.9% stake in UTV Software Communications Ltd. for $14 million while acquiring 100% of UTV kids channel Hungama TV's holding company, United Home Entertainment, at an enterprise valuation of $30.5 million, bringing Disney's total investment to $44.5 million.