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EMI sheds stake in Saregama

Special Correspondent

`SIL's strategy for a robust bottomline pays off'

KOLKATA: EMI Records Ltd., U.K., has sold its entire7.71 per cent stake in Saregama India Ltd (SIL), the entertainment company in the RPG group fold. However, the arrangement for sharing one of India's best known brand `HMV' and the foreign music titles will continue till the 25-year agreement between the two companies expires in 2010. EMI's representative on the SIL board, C. Ancliff, has also resigned, sources told The Hindu adding that the century-old relation between the erstwhile Gramophone Company of India Ltd and EMI — the world's third largest music group — has been waning for quite sometime now. "It had become a residual investment for them which they have now sold off," sources said. The stake has been picked up by a Reliance group company.

SIL board-level sources said that there would be no implications of this sell-off on the company which launched its own brand `Saregama' a few years ago.

The company, which has the world's largest repertoire (of three lakh songs) has crafted a turnaround. "While topline growth has become difficult in the wake of sluggish sales of music cassettes and CDs and piracy, SIL's strategy of working towards a robust bottomline has paid off", sources said. A net profit is expected this year, sources said.

Tapping alternative revenue streams like publishing incomes (getting paid for downloads of ringtones or playing music in offices) and tapping the home video market has brought handsome returns for SIL. "We now sell far more Telugu and Hindi versions of Hollywood movies than what we did of the English originals", sources said. The RPG-Group acquired the company in 1985 and turned it around before it went into another loss-making phase.

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