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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Investment Idea - Prime Focus Ltd. plans beachheads in Russia, Hungary

MUMBAI: Prime Focus Ltd, the Rs 300-crore company into entertainment technology and visual effects services, is planning to enter Russia and Hungary (Budapest) markets soon.

The management of the company is of the view that both these markets have huge potentials for films and related post-production businesses. The company has, however, not decided whether its foray into these markets will be through inorganic route or it would set up its own labs.

An analyst said an acquisition in Russia and Budapest would help Prime Focus to capture the huge visual effects opportunity in the international markets.

Reliance Capital, investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala and Adlabs hold 12%, 7% and 3.5% stakes respectively in Prime Focus.
In India, the company is in the process of increasing its headcount from 1,500 to 2,000 by the end of the current calendar year.

Nishant Fadia, chief financial officer (CFO), Prime Focus, told DNA Money, “The company is also pitching for huge contracts of films in Hollywood and expects to bag few major projects in the coming quarters.”

Earlier, it expanded its footprints in the US and UK through acquisitions. Prime Focus claims to be the first Indian post-production company to have a presence in the UK market through its acquisition of VTR, one of the biggest post-production companies with a revenue of £21 million.

In July 2006, Prime Focus UK acquired Clear (Post Production) Ltd, another UK-based visual effects company. It also acquired digital post production business of UTV Software for Rs 12 crore.

Prime Focus has a strong line up of projects with leading production houses like UTV, Yash Raj Films, Studio18, Adlabs and PNC involving post production as well as VFX (visual effect) work.

It has more than 60% market share in the post-production space and strong line up of movies in the coming quarters.

Analyst Ankit Kedia of ICICI Direct said in its research report that Prime Focus has a niche business model covering all the aspects of film production with VFX having the maximum growth potential.

Prime Focus offers a spectrum of services ranging from camera rentals, visual effects, digital film lab (digital intermediate, high-resolution film scanning and film recording), editing, motion control and high definition production.

IDFC-SSKI Securities analysts Nikhil Vora, Bhushan Gajaria and Rahul Narayan said in a note to clients on February 1 that there’s a huge opportunity in the post-production segment.

A robust digital infrastructure, 60% market share in Bollywood, move to increase its presence in lucrative markets like Chennai (Tamil cinema) and Hyderabad (Telugu cinema) and a strong relationship with leading film and advertisement fraternity makes Prime Focus the most potent player in this space in India.

The company had invested Rs 12 crore in the 5,000 square feet, 55-artist set-up in Chennai. With the South Indian film industry accounting for over 50% of India’s film production, this facility will cater to the postproduction and visual effects needs of the Chennai market.

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