ETC Networks, the listed subsidiary of ZEE Telefilms Limited (ZTL), has resumed trading on the Bombay Stock Exchange and National Stock Exchange. Trading of the company's equity shares began on February 9 - six months after it went off the bourses owing to the merger with another ZTL subsidiary Econnect India Limited.
The current development implies the completion of the merger process, which was approved "in principle" by the board of directors of ETC way back in December 2003. The company had cited "synergies" between ETC and Econnect for the merger.
Econnect was engaged in the business of providing IT solutions, maintaining web portals for the ZEE Network and offering Internet services. The company, however, ran into losses, and operations were dramatically scaled down.
The merger of ETC and Econnect was intended to help the former kick off operations in South India since the latter had offices there. Though it is unclear when ETC will venture South with a new channel, it is looking to launch a dedicated Punjabi religious channel ETC Khalsa in the next few months. This will come in addition to its existing bouquet - ETC Music and ETC Channel Punjabi - which were acquired by ZEE three years ago.
Company officials say that the new launch could happen in the current financial year, depending on whether it gets the necessary government approvals by then. Apart from regional channels, which beam a few hours of religious content in Punjabi, there is no dedicated channel focusing on this segment.
ETC hopes to capitalise on the lack of options with its third channel. The network has been beaming spiritual discourses and prayer services from the Golden Temple on ETC Channel Punjabi. But with the dedicated ETC Khasla round-the-corner, the thrust on the former is likely to come down.
The company in recent weeks had some reason to cheer with the third quarter (Oct-Dec 2004) results showing a total income of Rs 14.40-crore as against an expenditure of Rs 8.65-crore. Profit Before Tax (PBT) was Rs 4.36-crore, while net profit was Rs 2.87-crore. For the same period in 2003, total income registered was Rs 13.24-crore as against an expenditure of Rs 7.06-crore. PBT was marginally higher at Rs 4.81-crore, while net profit was Rs 2.58-crore.
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