Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) has zeroed in on buying Bangla Entertainment, which runs a Bengali TV channel called Channel 8 Talkies, for about Rs 60 crore.
The deal, if it goes through, will help the Japanese electronics and entertainment firm Sony to compete with the likes of Star India and Zee Entertainment in Indian regional entertainment space.
SPE and its entities currently own 62 per cent in Multi Screen Media (MSM) India, which was earlier known as Sony Entertainment Television India. This company operates channels like SET India, Pix, AXN and Sab TV among others.
SPE is now looking at buying into Bangla Entertainment through its investment subsidiaries, South Asian Regional Investment Singapore and South Asia Regional Investments Singapore II.
SPE has sought clearance from Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), the nodal body for clearing foreign investment in India, for acquiring the stake. But the proposal is yet to get a green signal as the I&B ministry is looking at the transaction. As per Indian regulations, 100 per cent FDI is permitted in non-news TV channels.
Run by Kolkata-based entrepreneur Ashoke Surana, Bangla Entertainment owns the Bengali movie channel, Channel 8 Talkies. Its shareholders include Highlight Commodeal, Indra Barter, Eshita Surana, Rahul Surana and Surana Brothers.
The owners have been looking to sell the firm for the past few months as they were unable to generate enough ad revenues, said a senior executive with a cable company, who didn’t wish to be identified.
Neither Michael Lynton, chairman and CEO, SPE, nor Kunal Dasgupta, CEO, MSM India, could be contacted at the time of filing this report.