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Saturday, May 11, 2002

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Maya Entertainment may buy Hollywood studio

Kohinoor Mandal


MAYA Entertainment Ltd, promoted by the director-actress duo of Mr Ketan Mehta and Ms Deepa Sahi, is likely to acquire a technical film studio for post- production activities in Hollywood.

If the acquisition takes place, then it will be through the company's California-based wing, called Maya Entertainment Ltd Offshore Services. Currently, this office is functioning as the marketing outfit of the parent company.

Mr Ketan Mehta, Managing Director of the company, said that creating an own studio infrastructure was the second option before them. "If we find that the acquisition is not a feasible venture, then we will build our own studio,'' Mr Mehta told Business Line.

The final decision will be taken after three or four months when the company goes for a second round of funding through stake divestment. Prior to it, a reputed agency will revalue the company.

Maya Entertainment was floated in 1996 and it has a modern studio in Mumbai and provides latest digital technology.

Immediately after incorporation, the advertising agency, Concept Communications, joined it as a partner. In September 2000, two more partners — Intel Capital and Enam Financial Securities — were roped in.

The new partners who are likely to be roped in during the second round of funding may include some of the studio owners of Hollywood and Canada.

Mr Mehta said that he would hold talks with "foreign companies and also Indian firms''.

According to him, the existing partners may also increase their stake in the company. By the end of this year, the company would go for its initial public offering, Mr Mehta said.

He, however, did not disclose the stakes held by the three partners as it was "confidential'', but confirmed that he was still the majority stakeholder.

The company is also planning to create a corpus of $3-5 million for producing four films a year. All sorts of films will be produced from this corpus. Mr Mehta said some venture capital funds had shown keen interest in creating this corpus and it will be created along with the second round of fund raising exercise.

Currently, the company earns about $1-2 million every year. Apart from its studio with post-production and animation facilities, Maya Entertainment produces software for television and films.

Besides this, there is the Maya Interactive division which produces animation games. The Maya Academy for Advanced Cinematics is into education business.

Mr Mehta was recently in the city to inaugurate a centre of the Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics. The centre will train students in computer graphics, animation, visual effects in films and other post film production related activities.

Currently, there are 15 such centres all over India and except one, which is located at the studio in Mumbai, all are owned and run by franchisees. He said that the network would be increased to 50 by the end of the current financial year.

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