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RIL plans to pick 26% stake in leading cable operators

Last updated on: January 16, 2012 09:41 IST

RIL plans to pick 26% stake in leading cable operators

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Varada Bhat and Surajeet Das Gupta in Mumbai/New Delhi

Reliance Industries is planning to pick up a minimum 26 per cent stake in leading cable operators, including multi-system operators.

The move is a part of the group's strategy to rope in cable operators as well as multi-system operators as partners to provide last-mile connectivity to consumer homes for 4G broadband services, which would include data, voice and television.

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Image: Mukesh Ambani.
Photographs: Reuters

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According to two independent sources, RIL has approached Den Networks, Digicable Networks, Hathway Cable, the Hinduja-promoted IndusInd Media and Communications Ltd (InCable) and several independent MSOs as well as smaller operators with good regional presence.

There are more than 6,000 cable operators in the country.

The move comes shortly after RIL decided to invest in media group TV18's two main companies through rights issues.

The deal would give RIL access to content for its 4G broadband internet venture.

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RIL had last year bought 95 per cent stake in the Mahendra Nahata-promoted Infotel Broadband Services Ltd, which won broadband wireless access or 4G spectrum across the country.

Elaborating on its strategy, an RIL spokesperson said Infotel was engaged in bringing affordable, cutting-edge wireless broadband and broadband-enabled digital services to customers across the country.

To support this business model, Infotel is pursuing an economically prudent strategy of deploying a judicious mix of owned and partnered assets.

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In this context, the spokesperson said, Infotel had, and continued to be, engaged in discussions with potential partners where a partnered approach could create win-win opportunities for the company, its customers and partners.

RIL, however, did not want to comment on specific names, given the 'strategic and confidential nature' of the discussions.

The MSOs and cable operators also declined to comment on talks with RIL.

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Tags: RIL , Infotel

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Sameer Manchanda, chairman and managing director of Den Networks, Ravi Mansukhani, managing director of Indusind Media, and K Jayaraman, CEO of Hathway Cable & Datacom, declined to comment on the issue.

With the government setting a deadline for digitisation by 2012 in metros and by 2014 across the country,  into the structure of Sun TV and the Zee group as both are present in an array of areas -- cable distribution, DTH and broadcasting.

But, they got clearance.




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