Apollo aims to sell stake in Dish TV: sources

MUMBAI Wed Mar 13, 2013 5:03pm IST

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MUMBAI (Reuters) - U.S. private equity firm Apollo Global Management LLC(APO.N) is in talks to sell its 11 percent stake in India's largest direct-to-home service operator Dish TV India Ltd(DSTV.NS), two sources with direct knowledge of the development told Reuters on Wednesday.

Apollo, which manages about $113 billion globally, has hired Swiss bank UBS (UBSN.VX) to manage the sale, the sources said.

"We have launched a formal process. But yet to decide how to proceed -- whether to do it through secondary deals or sell it to a strategic buyer, said one of the sources.

Apollo, which bought the 11 percent stake in the company in 2009 for about $100 million, is aiming to raise between $150 million to $200 million, said one of the sources.

The stake has a market value of about $144 million.

Dish did not immediately respond to queries by Reuters while Apollo declined to comment.

Apollo will join a group of private equity companies which have already sold stakes in Indian companies to take advantage of a surge in share prices and revival of positive investment sentiment towards Asia's third largest economy.

Last month, TPG Capital sold part of its stake in Shriram Transport Finance (SRTR.NS) for $305 million while Apax Partners made a partial exit from largest Indian hospital chain Apollo Hospitals Enterprises.

Apollo holds 7.99 percent is via global depository receipts plus another 3.09 percent in the Indian listed entity, according to data on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Dish TV, with a market cap of $1.3 billion, is part of India's Essel Group which runs broadcaster Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEE.NS).

Direct-to-home television broadcast service providers in India have been gaining momentum due to growing spending power in the country and from the Indian government's move to digitise the cable network.

Dish TV's rivals include Tata-Sky, a venture between India's Tata Group and British Sky Broadcasting BSY.L, Airtel DTH of telecoms operator Bharti Airtel (BRTI.NS), Videocon D2H controlled by billionaire Venugopal Dhoot and Reliance Big TV, owned by Reliance Communications (RLCM.NS).

Private equity funds have made $823 million worth of exits so far this year in India through 28 transactions, according to VCCircle, an industry tracker. Open market transactions or selling shares via block sales on stock exchanges made up $523 million of the total value. February alone saw 20 transactions valued at $625.8 million, the data showed.

(Additional reporting by Stephen Aldred in Hong Kong; Editing by Jane Merriman)

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