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Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004

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Colour television biz — BPL closing deal with Sanyo

Our Bureau

Bangalore , July 26

BPL Ltd, the domestic consumer durables player managed by the T.P.G. Nambiar family, is finally closing the much talked about equity infusion from Japan's Sanyo Electric Company. BPL will transfer its mainstay colour television business into a new 50:50 joint venture with Sanyo, the company informed BSE today evening.

The board of directors of BPL Ltd will meet here on Tuesday to consider and approve transfer of CTV business into the new venture, which is expected to be managed by the Nambiar family.

Sanyo has been BPL's technology collaborator since early 80s, one of the factors which helped the latter survive the early shakeout in the domestic CTV market and propel it to market leadership. At its peak in the late 90s, BPL brand controlled nearly 25 per cent of the Indian CTV market.

Earlier, the company's top management had told Business Line that the capital infusion from Sanyo could come in phases, with the initial investment pegged at around $40 million (around Rs 185 crore). Notwithstanding its recent troubles, which led to a scaling down of production and marketing, BPL continues to sell over 40,000 CTVs monthly indicating its latent equity.

The equity deal with Sanyo comes at a time when the debt burdened BPL is completing a corporate debt restructuring with financial institutions led by ICICI Bank. The company's total debt is pegged at about Rs 1,300 crore.

In many ways, the deal, the exact contours of which will be known tomorrow, is expected to start the reinventing of BPL, which is now managed by Mr Ajit Nambiar as Chairman and Managing Director, and assisted by Mrs Anju Chandrasekhar after the founder-promoter Mr T.P.G. Nambiar passed on the mantle in the late 90s.

The group's foray into cellular business, where it is a major player in the Mumbai circle, is managed by Mr Rajeev Chandrasekhar.

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