Walt Disney Co. said Monday it has reached a deal that will more than double its stake in Indian TV and movie content maker UTV Software Communication.
Burbank-based Disney said it will raise its holding in the Indian firm to 32.1 percent by acquiring 9.35 million shares for $203 million. Disney previously held a 14.9 percent stake in the company.
India has the world's third-largest cable TV market and many experts estimate that the Indian market will be Asia's most lucrative TV market by 2015.
When Robert Iger became Disney's chief executive in 2005 he said he wanted half of the entertainment giant's profit to come from overseas within five years. Disney got about one quarter of its profit from overseas in 2006, the company said.
UTV's board will expand from eight to 12 after the deal is closed, and both Disney and UTV's founders will have three members each.
Disney plans to invest an additional $30 million for a 15 percent stake in UTV's broadcasting unit, which has already launched three channels and plans another launch later this month.
Last summer, Disney reached a deal with Yash Raj Films Studio to make a series of Indian-themed computer-animated films. The partnership's first film, "Roadside Romeo" is set for release later this year.
Disney also bought Hungama, a Hindi-language children's channel from UTV for $30.5 million in 2006.
This deal comes less than a month after NBC Universal Inc. inked a deal with Indian broadcaster New Delhi Television Ltd for a 26 percent stake in the firm's overseas unit that offers entertainment and lifestyle channels.
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