UTV sets sights on China

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 March, 2008, 12:00am

Indian media giant UTV Software Communications is eyeing fresh opportunities in the mainland's gaming and entertainment sectors, months after acquiring Tom Online's former mobile and online games unit.

'While the perception of China's media and entertainment market is that of being difficult to penetrate, we have found it more open in the sense of content exchange,' said Ronnie Screwvala, chief executive of Mumbai-based UTV.

In December, UTV completed its earlier announced acquisition of the 59 per cent controlling stake in Indiagames for an undisclosed sum from Beijing-based Tom Online, the wireless internet unit of Tom Group.

UTV had earlier acquired a controlling stake in British gaming company Ignition.

'Building a global business model that will be competitive with the west will require us to come together with potential [mainland] partners,' Mr Screwvala said.

He declined to provide any specific initiatives, but said UTV wanted to follow the path other Indian IT services firms, such as Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys Technologies, had taken on the mainland.

Research firm Analysys International estimated the mainland's online gaming market saw revenue of 3.37 billion yuan (HK$3.69 billion) in the fourth quarter of last year.

UTV welcomed mainland investors, Mr Screwvala said. 'We represent a diversified play for investors,' he said, adding there were already a number of Hong Kong-based stakeholders in the company.

Citi Investment Research analyst Pragati Khadse wrote: 'UTV is one of the few listed integrated media players in India straddling the entire media value chain - from motion pictures, broadcasting and television content to high-growth new-media businesses, such as animation and gaming.'

Thomson Financial estimated UTV revenue for the year to March would reach 4.23 billion rupees (HK$816.8 million), up from about two billion rupees in the previous year.