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Big B to tie up with Kumar Birla for AB Corp
Rumi Dutta in Mumbai | October 11, 2003 10:45 IST
One of India Inc's poster boys could soon join hands with Bollywood's biggest icon. AV Birla group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla is in an advanced stage of discussions with Amitabh Bachchan for an alliance in feature film production.
Sources close to the discussions said the two could set up a separate company, where Birla will pick up a 50 per cent stake, with Big B holding the rest of the equity.
They added that other options were also being considered, including offering Birla a strategic stake in Bachchan's once-embattled entertainment company AB Corp (formerly ABCL).
The final agreement between the two could be inked within the next few days. Birla's investment will come through Applause Entertainment, a privately owned company of the Birla family.
In a unique deal, the brand equity that Bachchan and his son Abhishek command will be valued as equity.
"We will maintain the highest standards in conducting the equity valuation," Pulapaka Ramesh, CEO of AB Corp, told Business Standard. He confirmed that talks were on with the Birlas but declined to say anything further.
An official AV Birla group spokesperson did not comment on the issue, but other group sources said the final terms of the deal were currently being worked out.
Birla has already made a soft entry into the film financing business with Applause Entertainment.
Bachchan, on the other hand, has been drawing up big plans to rejuvenate AB Corp.
With endorsements of over Rs 50 crore (Rs 500 million) under his belt, Bachchan is set to unveil AB Corp's corporate strategy after having financially restructured the company.
Sources close to Bachchan told Business Standard: "AB Corp will be floating several project-based joint ventures. The film-making joint venture will be the first one. After consolidating our position in the industry, we will be floating other projects like ones for television software, documentary films and film exhibition."
The equal-equity partnership based on a profit-sharing model will not only help Bachchan concentrate on his profession but will also ensure a proper business focus through the corporate partner.
The erstwhile ABCL was referred to the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction and was declared sick in 1999.
Bachchan has already cleared Rs 90 crore (Rs 900 million) in debts due primarily to Prasar Bharti, financial institutions, banks and some private parties.