Malaysia's Astro buys additional stake in Sun's FM network

Astro All Asia Networks PLC has raised its holding in India's South Asia FM Ltd Sun FM to 20 per cent for RM60.55 million (approximately Rs82.58 crore), Sun TV Network informed the Bombay Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

The Malaysian media company, through its subsidiary South Asia Multimedia Technologies Ltd, already held a 6.98-per cent stake in SAFL, the radio broadcasting arm of Sun Network that operates some 40 FM stations across the country.

The Astro Group also owns 20 per cent in Sun Direct TV Pvt Ltd, the direct-to-home broadcasting company mainly owned by the Maran family, which is active in Tamil Nadu politics. Astro believes there is potential to grow its radio advertising in India.

At end-2008, the Indian radio advertising market size stood at Rs840 crore, Sun said, adding that by 2013 the market size was expected to reach Rs1,630 crore.

''The size of the radio advertising market as a percentage of the total advertising market in India is still relatively low at 4 per cent when compared with the global average of per cent. Therefore, there is potential for the radio advertising to grow,'' Astro in a statement.

It also said the Indian radio landscape was expected to undergo positive developments. This follows the relaxation of the radio licensing requirements in India, including allowing an increase in foreign direct investment limits and ownership of multiple frequencies and radio stations.

Astro's stake increase involved the acquisition of 13.83 million existing SAFL shares from AH Multisoft at par for RM10.59million. It also subscribed for 43.9 million compulsorily convertible preference shares in SAFL for RM33.62 million, with the remaining stake acquired from other shareholders.