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Sun eclipsed by SitiCable

Calcutta, May 14: The Zee group-owned SitiCable has pulled off a midnight coup, pipping Sun Network to buy out the city’s largest multi-system operator, Indian Cable Net of RPG Enterprises.

The deal, inked late last night and reportedly worth around Rs 48 crore, thwarted an eastern invasion by the Chennai-based network controlled by the Maran brothers, Dayanidhi and Kalanidhi.

Sun has been in talks with Indian Cable Net (formerly RPG Netcom) for months. But SitiCable clinched the coveted cable crown within weeks of entering the fray.

“We had consulted our merchant bankers and put an offer before Indian Cable Net a few weeks back,” Jawahar Goel, head of the Delhi-based SitiCable, said today. “Yesterday, we were informed the deal was ours.”

Acquiring Indian Cable Net gives SitiCable control of around 55 per cent cable and satellite homes in the CMDA area and a clear advantage over the two other MSOs, Manthan and CableComm.

Goel, younger brother of Zee chief Subhash Chandra, attributed the buyout to the company’s “market consolidation” objective. He cited the recent mergers with Ice Network and Atria Network in Bangalore.

However, a key role could have been played by a prod from the state government. Sources said Writers’ Buildings had conveyed to SitiCable officials its preference for the Zee group over Sun. Recently, the Zee boss had also called on chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee with a bagful of promises for Bengal.

Although Goel questioned “why should the state government get involved in a business deal'”, SitiCable’s official release praised Bengal for being more “proactive” than other states in “streamlining the cable sector”.

The RPG group confirmed it had entered into an agreement with SitiCable to “transfer its entire interest in Indian Cable Net”. It was exiting the cable business as it was not “a part of its core business”.

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