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Equity fund buys into India's Dish TV

US-based College Retirement Equities Fund has bought a major stake in Indian direct-to-home satellite TV platform Dish TV, for an estimated INR320 million (almost €4 million).

The 646,400,000 shares were purchased on an average price of INR49.25 valuing the transaction to over INR318 million, according to the Press Trust of India.

It is unclear who sold the stake in India's largest DTH provider in the deal that was registered on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

The move comes just days after Dish TV posted its first quarter financial results for 2013-2014. The company has narrowed its losses to INR304 million from INR323 million in the first quarter of the previous fiscal year, while the EBIDTA margin was 21%.

Revenues for the quarter stood at INR5.784 billion, up 11.2% from the first quarter in 2012-13, when revenues reached INR5.2 billion.

"Too much focus on box seeding has diluted the addressability part of the digitisation mandate," said Subhash Chandra, chairman, Dish TV, referring to the ongoing digitisation of India's vast cable TV network.

"In such a scenario, Dish TV's focus on quality additions is a counterintuitive move which has started delivering encouraging results. The first quarter saw the company deliver strong free cash flows while maintaining healthy customer retention and investing in brand equity," he added.

The company reported the addition of two million net subscribers to its customer base in the first quarter, along with a decrease in churn. In addition, average revenue per user (ARPU) for the quarter increased 5.1% to INR 165, resulting in a 15.9% year-on-year increase in subscription revenues.

Dish TV said that its focus remains on strengthening the balance sheet, and it looks forward to retiring a significant portion of its outstanding debt.

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