Multi Screen Media sells stake

Sony Entertainment TV officials had no comment

NEW DELHI -- Unconfirmed reports Monday stated that Sony Entertainment Television holding company Multi Screen Media has sold a 32% stake to Indian businessman Bhupendra Kumar Modi's MCorp. Global for $320 million.

Mumbai-based SET India officials did not return calls or issue a statement.

News channel New Delhi Television reported that MCorp's $320 million buyout of 32% equity in MSM "will value the company at $1 billion" and that "a binding agreement has already been signed between Modi and SET's investors and a deal is expected to close by early June."

Online portal reported that MCorp. Global -- whose interests include Spice Telecom and planned forays in entertainment -- has bought out the 32% stake in MSM held by five SET India founding promoters including Bollywood actor Jackie Shroff and Mumbai-based home video company Shemaroo Entertainment MD Raman Maroo who were looking to offload their shareholding timed with a probable IPO by SET. While SET has still not gone public, observers feel that MCorp's buyout could be the exit route the promoters were looking for.

SET India was launched in 1995 with flagship Hindi entertainment channel SET India followed by cricket-movies hybrid channel SET MAX, kids channel Animax and English entertainment channel SET PIX.

Reportedly, following MCorp's acquisition, SET India's shareholding would now see parent Sony Corp. continue to own 60% along with U.S.-based Capital International owning 8%, with the balance 32% owned by MCorp. Global.

SET MAX is enjoying high viewership ratings courtesy of newly launched cricket tournament Indian Premier League.

MCorp. Global is also rumored to announce a big-budget Hollywood production based on the life of Buddha.