Media conglomerate The Times Group is close to picking up a stake in Percept Limited, an entertainment, media and communications company, in what could be a move towards forward integration for the company.

Sources close to the development told VCCircle that the Times Group may be investing close to Rs 100 crore for about 10% in Percept Ltd, which will be valued at Rs 1,000 crore. Sources added that the talks are at a fairly advanced stage and that a deal will materialise soon.

An email sent to Ravi Dhariwal, CEO, Times Group, did not elicit any response at the time of posting this article.  “I have not heard this and I would not like to comment on this,” he said, responding to a phone call.  A spokesperson of Percept India said, “No comments” to the article.

Founded in 1984, Percept Limited has a team of over 1,000 people and 62 offices in India and the Middle East and claims to have a capitalized billings of about  Rs 2,600 crore (FY’10). Percept, which operates in three verticals, is engaged in TV and movie content, ad films, distribution, talent management, sports, wedding management, entertainment branding and marketing, branded entertainment, merchandising and entertainment IPs(Entertainment Group); media planning, buying and representation, outdoor media, retail media, rural media, digital media and digital IPs (Media Group) and advertising, brand communication, strategy, creative, public & media relations and integrated marketing communication consultancy services (Communications Group).

If indeed the deal is inked, an industry observer, on condition of anonymity, says, “It’s like a marriage between a media owner like Times Group and a media seller like Percept. It’s a more of a forward integration for Times Group. For Percept, it’s about cash infusion and also joining hands with the biggest media conglomerate in the country.”

Percept Ltd has had investors in several of its businesses.  In 2008, it received private equity funding from Everstone Capital Management, JP Morgan Partners and Passport Capital. While Indivision I, managed by Everstone Capital Management, acquired 10% stake in the company for $15 million, the amount invested by the others is not known. VCCircle could not ascertain if the Times Group deal would result in some kind of secondary exit for some investors.

In 2006, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd (part of the Times Group) invested an undisclosed amount in Percept Picture Company Pvt Ltd for an undisclosed stake.

Percept has also seen decent M&A activity in the past. In 2007, NetWeb Solutions acquired its joint venture partner Percept Holdings' 51% stake in WebPercept for an undisclosed amount. Post acquisition, WebPercept got re-christened as id8 Labs. In 2006, Percept Holdings announced the acquisition of ex-Carat COO Shripad Kulkarni’s Allied Media and launch of Percept Media, a full service 360-degree media offering.

There have been deals of such nature in the past. In October this year, Publicis Groupe announced an agreement to acquire a majority stake in 20:20 MEDIA, and social media consulting firm, 2020Social.

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