Providence Equity Partners, a global private equity firm specialised in investments in media, entertainment, communications and information services companies, has put in around Rs 260 crore in a mix of primary and secondary investment in UFO Moviez India Ltd. The private equity fund will pick up a significant minority equity stake in UFO and will be the largest shareholder in the company, the firm said in a statement, without divulging details.

The Indian promoters of the company, Valuable Group and Apollo International (an affiliate of Apollo Tyres) as well as 3i Group, a leading private equity firm and an early investor in UFO, will continue to remain significant shareholders, the statement added.

UFO Moviez, founded by the Valuable Group and jointly promoted in association with Apollo International Limited, claims to be the largest chain of satellite based digital cinemas in the world with more than 1800 screens across India. It has close to 25,000 installations across the country and claims to be the only company in the world delivering MPEG content for digital cinema via satellite.

The company will use the monies raised to augment its growth plans in the Indian and international markets. UFO is targeting 4,000 screens in the next two years.

The statement also added that UFO has picked up a strategic stake in Scrabble Entertainment Pvt Ltd, India’s largest DCI compliant Digital Cinema Company. Scrabble has over 250 screens where they have installed the Hollywood Studios mandated DCI certified Digital Cinema systems. This acquisition will help UFO provide greater flexibility to distributors and exhibitors.

Digital Cinema is expanding fast in India. Recently, BVG Films (BVG) and DAR Motion Pictures entered this genre with a total investment of over Rs 100 crore for producing, marketing and releasing three next generation stereoscopic 3D films over the next 2-3 years.

US based private equity firm Providence manages funds over $23 billion in equity commitments. In an earlier investment, the investment manager picked up 16.14% in in Aditya Birla Telecom (ABTL), a wholly owned subsidiary of Idea Cellular for $428 million. Globally, it has invested in companies like Hulu, Kabel Deutschland, NexTag, PanAmSat, ProSiebenSat.1, Recoletos, TDC, Univision, VoiceStream Wireless, Warner Music Group, and Yankees Entertainment.

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